Yes he Cain?
Herman Cain, a talk radio host and former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, is expected to formally announce his presidential candidacy Saturday during a rally at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, Georgia. Cain, who hails from the Peach State, had previously formed an exploratory committee, but has not yet said if he will officially enter the race.
Cain is still relatively unknown nationwide; according to a recent Gallup poll, just 29% of self-identified Republicans know who he is, placing him well below big-name candidates like Mitt Romney. Even former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, another candidate struggling to get his name out there, is recognized by 48% of Republicans. As a result, Cain has polled in the low to mid single digits in almost every survey of the GOP primary.But Cain spokeswoman Ellen Carmichael told TPM that as Cain has traveled and gained exposure, he’s begun to develop a devoted following.
‘”More and more people are coming to know who he is,” Carmichael said. “And once they do, they’ll like him.”
“His star has risen,” she added.
Cain does post the highest “positive intensity” score in Gallup’s rankings, a figure that measures the percentage of people with a strongly favorable opinion of a candidate, minus the percentage who have a strongly unfavorable opinion.
Consider it this way. Twenty-five percent of all Republicans have a strongly favorable opinion of Cain, even though only 29% know who he is. Compare that to presumed frontrunner Mitt Romney. A significantly larger 84% of Republicans know who he is, but only 14% have a strongly favorable opinion of him, according to Gallup.
Cain has made strides toward boosting his reach, most notably with his performance in a nationally televised Fox News presidential debate earlier this month. After the debate, a Fox focus group nearly unanimously declared Cain the winner.
And Cain may have some more maneuvering room now that Mike Huckabee, who had been soaking up a large share of the votes in early primary polls, has said he will not enter the race. That freed up many Republicans to shift their support behind another candidate.
“He and Mr. Cain share a lot ideologically,” Carmichael said of Huckabee. “If his suporters are looking for a home in 2012, of couse they’re welcome with us.”
If Cain does enter the race, he would join Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) and Newt Gingrich as the only officially declared candidates in the race. Pawlenty is expected to make his candidacy official on Monday, and a number of other candidates have all but declared their intention to run as well.
Some exclusive details on Cain’s speech from the campaign. The speech is entitled “America is ready for real solutions,” and runs about 20 minutes. Carmichael said the speech will be heavy on bio and Cain’s “leadership past,” and will highlight the tax plan Cain’s made a focus of his campaign so far.
Carmichael wouldn’t say exactly what Cain will announce at the end of the speech, but she pointed out that if Cain does decide to run, a spiffed-up and redesigned version of his website will launch Saturday.
– Evan McMorris-Santoro