The 2012 Republican Presidential primary race is officially underway. Sort of.
Herman Cain, a pizza chain CEO turned talk radio host who has never held elected office, announced today that he is forming a presidential exploratory committee, a crucial fundraising tool and typically the first step toward a full fledged candidacy. Cain has been hinting at a presidential bid for almost a year, and though this is his first formal move in that direction, he has not technically declared his candidacy yet.
For that matter, neither have any of the other potential GOP candidates. As Dave Weigel noted yesterday, 14 candidates had at least formed exploratory committees by this point in 2007, including six Republicans. This year, Cain is the first.
Cain quotes Ronald Reagan in announcing the committee’s formation on his website, and writes that, “The American Dream is under attack.”
His statement concludes:
Fellow patriots, now more than ever, we must come together to take a stand for the future of America. I make this promise to you as I deliberate the ways in which I can do my part to restore and protect the American Dream: I would be the voice of the American People. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. I ask you to do the same for me.
Cain’s last foray into politics was a failed bid to be Georgia’s Republican nominee for Senate in 2004. A vocal conservative and Tea Party favorite, Cain may be banking on strong support from the GOP’s conservative base to propel him into legitimate contention with the presumed front-runners.