In 2006 there was an open seat for Governor in New York. Democrats were rallying early on to Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, so the Republicans needed a candidate who was exciting and able to compete. I went to a Gubernatorial candidate forum and one person stood out, Assemblyman Pat Manning. Manning was young, had a young family, was an across the board conservative, and was a great speaker. He ran in favor of old fashioned family values and classic American values. When he spoke, it sounded like he meant it. I got my picture taken with him and promptly donated to his campaign. I was hooked, I was excited. I was wrong.
A few weeks later it came out that the man was cheating on his wife, who had begun the process of divorcing him. It was messy, as it appeared him and, (according to insiders I knew at the time) other Assemblymen were passing around interns in a sketchy story that appeared less than true, until he dropped out of the race for Governor. He then tried to run for his old assembly seat, losing to Marc Molinaro in the primary - after getting caught trying to contact Molinaro's pollster pretending to be Molinaro over the phone. I was disappointed to say the least. I couldn't get over that this man who I had supported, man who I had believed in, would fall this far and could have deceived me so much. Fast forward to this year.
Early on, I had jumped on the Cain Train. When he first began talking about a Presidential campaign, I was excited. Listening to him speak about the fundamentals of conservatism was mesmerizing. His outsider credentials and his vast business experience was impressive to me. Add to that, he had a great personal story and had a great family life. His wife didn't want to be in the spotlight, she liked her privacy, so he didn't drag her on the campaign trail. I liked that. I then went out on a limb for him here and at Race42012 endorsing him. Then the allegations started rolling in.
First, there were allegations of sexual harassment. There were few details, they appeared...frankly, unfounded. Then came more allegations, including one from a person who actually came public with their specific allegations. Now, there's this - claims of a 13 year affair. Cain's response? All but admitting it with a non-denial denial. It makes all the previous allegations appear plausible. Also, she has specifics - texts, call logs, etc. I'm sure it will only be a matter of time before he drops out of the race; which is probably for the best for his family.
In both cases, I went all in for a candidate only to end up feeling betrayed and disappointed in a candidate who was not who they said they were. It's an awful feeling and one I don't want to feel again. We all need to be careful before endorsing, but that said - much like in romance, we can not allow the failures of the past to sully our future. We can not be unwilling to endorse for fear of being called a fool. We can not predict who will turn out to be a charlatan, who has skeletons in their closet. You can't be unwilling to endorse because a skeleton that you never could know about may come out. I can't just assume that everyone running for public office is untrustworthy, or else I'd never vote.
Trust is important to me and those of us on the right. Limited government, in many ways, requires an informed and responsible public; it requires us to trust each person to do what is right for themselves and their family. In order to have a limited government, you have to hold a great deal of trust in the average person. I trust that I know better for myself than my Senator or my President. I feel the same way about my neighbors and my friends. This is part of why I am a conservative. This inherent public trust carries over into our politicians. Ronald Reagan was a big time truster - according to Reagan speechwriter Peter Robinson, Reagan would trust those he appointed to do their job according to their ability and where they were the experts, he would trust their knowledge and their judgment. We on the right want to trust our political leaders. We are appalled when politicians prove untrustworthy and in most cases the grassroots will go after our own.
Trust is important to me and when it's gone, it takes time to rebuild and forgive the person who appeared untrustworthy. That's why Newt has taken until now to become politically viable. It took time to heal those past wounds. Right now I'm frustrated and betrayed. That said, I won't let disappointment prevent me from endorsing and supporting a candidate in the future.
I said early on I didn't want a safe choice for 2012. Well, now that unsafe choice has gotten to the point where I can no longer stand behind him. It's not just the claims, it's the fact that Cain has been unable to run a functional campaign. Cain's draw was that he was an outsider who was going to surround himself with the right people. The way he's run his campaign has shown that he's unable or unwilling to surround himself with the right people. So, what of the other candidates? As the title of the post implies, I'm undecided and let me tell you why.
Bachmann - Michele is pretty good on fiscal issues, but comes across as a kook. Why? Well, when you imply 9-9-9 is the sign of the devil, you've pretty much made yourself written off.
Huntsman - Huntsman has a pretty solid platform. He has a solid tenure as Governor, but governed as far to the left as was possible in the state of Utah. Other problems? He keeps poking conservatives in the eye with specifically targeted comments (ex "I believe in science") and the fact that he was running for President (or planning to) while serving as Ambassador to China is upsetting to me. I've discussed this at length before. This bugs me, seriously. I could vote for him in the general, but I won't in the primary.
Johnson - Gary Johnson has an excellent record as governor. He founded a 1 man company that turned into the biggest construction firm in New Mexico, which is far more impressive than the experience of a lot of different candidates. That said, he's pro-choice, he's known as the "pot" candidate, and is unable to raise money. At all. Johnson can't get the nomination because no one has given him the chance and he's unable to raise any funds.
Mitt - Romney has an incredible ground game, is focused on Obama, a decent campaigner, and has the same type of business experience I loved in Herman Cain. The problem? Inconsistent on fiscal issues and Masscare. Both of which led me to not vote for him in 2008, and it's part of the reason I'm still undecided on him now. Also, I frankly don't know if I can trust him. He comes across as disingenuous to me and in the debates came across as condescending. Then again, Obama's always condescending. So, I could still vote for him, but again - undecided.
Newt - Newt is a fascinating candidate. Great debater, former Speaker of the House who helped lead the country in the right direction (pun intended) on fiscal issues and led to serious national reform. But he's on his third wife with a history of infidelity and he's been inconsistent historically on fiscal issues. He's a brain power is unmatched, but as I said - inconsistent on fiscal issues. So, I could vote for him - but still undecided.
Paul - I will not vote for Ron Paul in the primary. Ever. Even if he's the only one left in the primary. In that case, I would write in George H.W. Bush.
Perry - Perry has some great experience. He was a pretty solid Governor of Texas. 40% of the jobs created in the US in the past 2 years were created in Texas - that's hard to overlook. That said, Perry is a terrible debater which could be awful against Obama in the general election. Also, there's the Texas DREAM Act, which as a strong opponent of it here in Maryland who supported the effort to put it on the ballot / overturn it - this is a problem. Deal breaker? No, but an issue for me. Again, I'm undecided on Perry in the primary - but of course would vote for him in the general election.
Santorum - I actually don't mind Rick Santorum. But, he couldn't win reelection in Pennsylvania. He comes across angry and agitated in every single debate. He is inconsistent on fiscal issues. And, frankly, his active campaigning for future turncoat Arlen Specter is disappointing. Honestly, Santorum has very little money and does not have a clear path to the nomination. Also, his name is a filthy expression online that will be tough to combat should he get the nomination.
So, I'm back to being undecided. If the primary were held today, I'm not sure who I'd vote for when I got into the voting booth. Maybe Newt. Maybe Rick Perry. Maybe Romney - I'm not sure. What I do know is that I'm waiting to be wowed by the candidates.
When he first began talking about a Presidential campaign, I was excited. Listening to him speak about the fundamentals of conservatism was mesmerizing. His outsider credentials, his strong support among Tea Party voters, his vast business experience was impressive to me. I like outsider candidates, still do. I'm one of those rare people who genuinely likes 9-9-9. Still do. I jumped feet first onto the Cain Train and never planned to look back. I'm starting to.
It started out simply enough with an issue Cain was strong on, abortion. Cain is pro-life, I have no doubts of that. He has donated intensely to pro-life causes. He has a history of strong, bold stances on life issues. But every day came a rewording, modified statement that made him sound less and less pro-life. It became difficult to defend the man who I believed in.
Then came the sexual harassment charges. As I said before, I am still under the impression that this entire situation was a misunderstanding blown out of proportion. I don't think Cain sexually harassed anyone. That said, his defense of himself for something that, as I said - I don't think he did, has been weak at best. This could have been a chance for Cain to get this out of the way, get this explained in a straight forward manner, and could have been a boost to his campaign. It has provided him a financial boost today, but for a lot of us it shows a hole in his campaign. Again, this was something he should have been ready to respond to, instead he responded...modified his comments time and again. Those who called his response "Clintonian" almost feels fitting.
Now today Cain missed a fairly basic foreign policy issue - that China has nuclear weapons. Ace of Spades has the rest of the details including portions of the interview transcript. A Presidential candidate needs to know some very basic facts - the fact that China has nuclear weapons needs to be among them. While no Presidential candidate truly knows all that he or she "knows" when in interviews, but if Cain has not been briefed on something that basic, his campaign is flawed.
Cain needs to revamp his campaign. He's in the big leagues now and still being coached by the JV squad all stars. He's gotten some good new campaign members recently, but he needs to rapidly adapt. He needs to be better prepared. He needs to learn the political game just a little bit. The very thing that I liked about him, his lack of political experience, is shining light on his greatest weakness.
From the campaign that was the most energetic and had some of the fervent fans, I've become tired. I'm tired of defending Herman Cain. I'm tired of looking foolish for supporting the man as he fumbles along. I'm not quite ready to give up on him just yet...but, sadly, I'm getting there. I'm hoping to be proven wrong, but time will tell.
Cross-posted to Race42012
I don't believe that Herman Cain sexually harassed anyone. I'm going to put that out there right off the bat. That said, Cain failed at responding to this issue in a big way.
According to news sources, Cain and his campaign were pre-warned to this news article coming out. It's about a 15+ year old pair of sexual harassment allegations. Here's how Cain's responses went. He began saying one thing. He followed that up with a response that muddied the waters, contradicting parts of his original response. He then continues to contradict that original response with further comments. None of them acknowledge him doing any wrongdoing. As I said at the front of the article, I don't think he did. That said, Cain fumbled this royally.
If Cain had made this response at the beginning of the day, it would be a non-issue anymore. But he didn't. By mixing up his story throughout the day, the inconsistencies make the man come across as less honest. Honesty is his selling point. That combined with his folksy charm and business sense are what make people like this outsider candidate. I know that's what sold me on him. But his consistency at being...inconsistent at attempting to clarify his own statements are becoming frustrating to this Cain fan.
This is where having strong campaign apparatus comes in handy. In 2008, the New York Times dropped a bomb insinuating the McCain was unfaithful to his wife. McCain responded with outrage and details immediately to combat the charges. Cain should have been ready to do the same thing. He wasn't. That does not bode well for the general election.
Cain has gotten into the big leagues with his charm, 9-9-9, and his business sense. If he wants to stay there, he needs to do better than this.
Cross-posted to Race42012
Dear Herman Cain:
Please take Jimmie Bise's advice here.