Reporting from Ames, Iowa — There is something charming about Herman Cain, who has been campaigning like crazy in Iowa for months. Though he scores low in the polls and is only an average fundraiser,Republicans here really, really like the guy.
They loved it Thursday night at the Ames presidential debate when he was asked to explain a campaign trail remark that the U.S. should put up a 20-foot electrified fence along the Mexican border.
“America’s got to learn how to take a joke,” replied Cain.
Photos: Scenes From Iowa - Republicans at the State Fair
On the campaign trail, Iowans have responded positively when Cain insists the American court system is in danger from creeping Sharia-ism.
They also like his business experience as the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza. He is the only Republican presidential candidate with no elective experience, a fact he exploits on the stump.
But they really eat up his folksy ways and the deliberate ungrammatical constructions that telegraph his humble origins and stellar life arc, from working class Georgia kid whose dad worked three jobs to top of the American economic ladder.
“I say ‘Too many people ain’t got no sense,’” he told an appreciative crowd in his big open-sided tent at the Ames Straw Poll Saturday morning. “That’s in honor of my grandparents.”
He’d been arguing with his publisher about the name of his second book.
The publisher, he said, wants him to call it, “We Are Not Stupid.”
“But I want to call it, ‘We Ain’t Stupid.’ Which one do y’all like best?”
“Ain’t!” roared the crowd.
“Well, y’all just voted. It’s gonna be ‘We Ain’t Stupid,’ because we ain’t stupid.”
Cain, who has recently put out an album of gospel music, invited another Iowa favorite, the rockin’ former governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee, to share a musical moment on stage with him. Both are Baptist preachers, as Cain pointed out…and neither had time to practice.
Still, they sounded pretty good. Huckabee played bass as Cain sang a spiritual in his mournful baritone, “Hold on a little longer, help is on the way.”
As he introduced the song, he said, “We’re in tough times, you gotta hold on just a little longer. In November 2012, as my grandfather would say, hep is on the way.”