*Is it politically possible that the Republicans – a political party which many blacks feel gives a safe harbor to racists – nominate an African American to carry the GOP banner against President Obama in next November’s election?
Currently the Republican race is shaping up as a battle between former Massaschusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Texas Governor Rick Perry with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie waiting in the wings for one of the other major candidates to open the door for him by making some major campaign mistake.
However, in the midst of all this black conservative Herman Cain has been surprising just about everyone with his performance as of late. A Fox News poll last week showed him with 17 percent support among Republicans – up from just 5 percent in recent weeks. He even shocked Perry by recently defeating him in the Florida straw poll. Meanwhile, a SurveyUSA poll of Florida Republicans showed him trailing Romney by only 27 percent to 25 percent.
His dramatic speaking style and harsh criticisms of President Obama have made him a favorite among Tea Party conservatives who might feel it will take a black man to defeat a black man in the November 2012 contest. Cain has also been relying on his extensive experience in business to suggest that he has what it takes to put the troubled American economy back on track and put people to work.
Nevertheless, the growing speculation about Cain’s chances may be a bit premature. He is a social conservative holding views which are known to rub most African Americans and other minority group members the wrong way. Thus, Cain can forget about the black and the Hispanic vote. That vote, however, has little influence in the generally white, conservative Republican Party.
In addition, Cain has never held elected political office and he has no foreign policy experience. He even embarrassed himself not long ago when he clearly did not know what he was talking about regarding key issues in the Middle East like the so-called “right of return.”
Regardless, Republicans seem increasingly enthralled by a dynamic-speaking, clean-cut black man willing to attack President Obama and his policies. This is what is propelling the Herman Cain candidacy. How far it will take him is unclear. But in the past, black Republicans running for high political office have tended to draw attention because they were odd or unusual. However, as one conservative newspaper put it Monday: Cain “is beginning to look like a contender.”
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