There is something brewing in this Republican primary right now . . . the natives are restless. Mainstream candidate after mainstream candidate seem to failing them, nobody is happy with what has been presented to them. First there is the endurance of Mitt Romney, who is becoming a much more resilient campaigner than he was four years ago. Then there is Michele Bachmann, a tireless fighter who has begun to crumble when specifics are requested of her rhetoric. Then comes Rick Perry, who hasn't fallen because of bad debate performances with the base more than because of substantive positions on immigration. Perry's immigration beliefs create and "yeah, but" comparison with Mitt Romney's health care record. Its a correlation that doesn't do him well.
The Florida Presidency 5 straw poll, along with the Ames poll, shows that the base is looking for someone to wow them, and they really don't care who it is. Whether a three-term congresswomen from a small town in Minnesota or a former business executive and radio show host from Georgia. There is a longing out there, and its one the pundits and media are missing. While the elites are pining for a Christie or a Daniels, the conservative base is pining for - really - a Palin. Just not that Palin. The base is looking for a fighter, someone who isn't apologizing for his/her beliefs, and someone who projects a message.
These debates, if they continue as they have, will end up hurting both Romney and Perry. The constant focus on them and their feuds are angering the base. Its becoming a problem for both of them. Then there is the "anyone but Romney" movement that clearly - based on the Florida poll - has the numbers but just does not have the candidate right now. And while the media fixates on the more moderate, "electable" candidates - its the more consistant conservative one that the base is looking for and the one that will get the nomination.
Which brings me to the curious case of Herman Cain. He is a perplexing candidate because he doesn't have a "Gov", "Rep," or "Sen" prefix that so many Americans find comfort in. If Cain would have won the Georgia Senate race in 2004, he would have been a front-runner. But we look with comfort on candidates that have that nice title. Cain, of all the existing candidates, has the greatest opportunity to capture this feeling before the base "settles" for someone, but he will need to make the case for so many of us to make that leap of faith. Is it a disqualifer not to be someone who writes and votes on legislation - whether its good or bad? Is it a disqualifer to not have run a state? I don't know, I'm not the person who decides that but to win this nomination, Cain would need to do some serious work to make Americans to take that leap of faith, but every day Romney and Perry snipe at each other, every day that no candidate with one of those titles steps up, perhaps there will be an opening for the businessman Cain. I don't envision anyone other than possibly Jim DeMint that could now come in from the right to take this. Its now or never for someone like Cain. The next few months will be critical before Iowa and before conservatives are forced to "settle" once again.