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Rising Cain: GOP Candidate Shoots Up in the Polls

Nearly six months ago, GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain spoke at the Missouri Capitol as an also-ran in the Republican field. Today, he is leading in some public opinion polls.

GOP aspirant Herman Cain has come a long way since he stood on the steps of the Missouri Capitol nearly six months ago.

Cain – a Georgia native who previously served as CEO of Godfather’s Pizza – was on hand at an April 14 Tax Day Rally for United for Missouri. The group is headed by former House Speaker Pro Tem Carl Bearden, a Republican from St. Charles.

At the rally, Cain said America had “a long list of crises” that it needed to deal with.

“We don’t just have one,” Cain said in a video created by United for Missouri. “We’ve got a moral crisis. We’ve got an economic crisis. We’ve got an entitlement spending crisis. We’ve got an energy crisis. We’ve got an immigration crisis. We have a national security crisis – because we have a president that doesn’t want to lead.”

Back in April, Cain was barely making a blip in a presidential race dominated by candidates with elected experience. Cain’s only other bid for office came in 2004 when he ran for an open U.S. Senate seat in Georgia. He lost to the eventual winner – current U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia – by a landslide.

But since Texas Gov. Rick Perry's precipitously decline in the polls, Cain’s candidacy has gained some steam. He’s made some noise with his “9-9-9” plan, which aims to implement a 9 percent income tax, a 9 percent national sales tax and a 9 percent corporate income tax.

Cain even gained a lead over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in a national presidential poll conducted by Public Policy Polling. The Democratic polling firm said that Perry’s “shocking” 17 point drop in the polls benefited Cain.

But while Cain is leading in his company’s poll, the president of PPP doesn’t think he’ll have long-standing traction.

“Cain’s the flavor of the week but with 70 percent of Republican voters either undecided or willing to change their minds this race is as wide open as it’s ever been,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling, in a statement.

Part of Debnam’s skepticism could be due to both Romney and Perry’s advanced fundraising numbers and organizations. It may also due with Cain’s propensity to make controversial statements.

It's unknown whether Cain will continue to fare well in the polls. But his campaign's trajectory changed quite a bit since he stood outside the Missouri Capitol six months ago.

FIRE POWER

Republican Ann Wagner’s campaign for Congress got a bit of a boost with the addition of veteran GOP operative Aaron Willard to her campaign.

Willard – a Lincoln County native who’s worked as a chief of staff for two Speakers of the Missouri House and behind the scenes politically for the House Republican Campaign Committee – will become Wagner’s campaign manager in early November. He will leave his current job of executive director for the HRCC, a group in charge of electing Republicans to the Missouri House.

“I am extremely excited about this opportunity and proud to be a part of Ann’s campaign,” said Willard in a statement. “For nearly 20 years Ann has dedicated her time and passion to helping conservative candidates get elected in Missouri. Whether walking neighborhoods as a Lafayette Township Committeewoman or as Missouri Republican Party chairman, Ann’s commitment has always been to the grassroots of Missouri.”

Meanwhile, Wagner’s opponent in the 2nd Congressional District primary – attorney Ed Martin – brought in gun rights advocate Dick Heller as a drawing point for his campaign. Heller was the plaintiff in Heller vs. District of Columbia, the case in which the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed an individual’s right to keep and bear arms for self-defense.

Heller endorsed Martin’s campaign in this web video.

“Dick Heller is an inspiration, a testament that each of us can have a role to play in preserving our great nation. Heller’s determination, perseverance has upended decades of liberalism chipping away at our 2nd Amendment rights,” Martin said in a statement. “I was honored to have Dick spend a few days with us, and I am honored to have his support.” 

CLAY BETS ON ST. LOUIS

Whenever a St. Louis team manages to make to the playoffs, it’s a sure bet [pun intended] that a politician will make a wager.

That assumption basically came true when U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis City, made a bet with U.S. Gwen Moore, D-Wisconsin, over the outcome of the National League Championship Series. The St. Louis Cardinals, of course, are playing the Milwaukee Brewers for the right to go to the World Series.

If the Brew Crew makes it to the World Series, Clay will have to provide Moore’s staff with a case of Miller High Life and a suculent deep dish pizza from Pi. But if the Redbirds prevail, Moore will be forced to give Clay’s staff a case of Budweiser and “a selection of Milwaukee’s finest bratwurst.”

“The Cardinals are on a roll; Albert [Pujols] is awesome; Chris Carpenter is warming up; and the Rally Squirrel is ready,” said Clay in a statement released Wednesday. “And I am surprised to learn that they actually brew beer in Milwaukee!”

Added Moore in a statement: “There is no doubt that the Brewers will win the next three games, but I need to call Brewers Manager Ron Roenicke right away and tell him just how dire this situation is. I am loathe to purchase Budweiser. The only beer I ever buy or drink is High Life.”   

Full disclosure: the writer of this column may or may not have poured Miller High Life over a bunch of friends in celebration after the Chicago White Sox won the 2005 World Series in dominating fashion.

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