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Is Cain able? Herman Cain scores in latest presidential poll

May 26, 2011|By James Oliphant
(David Goldman/AP )

Are we witnessing Hermentum? Hermantum? Hermanentum?

Herman Cain thinks so. And for once, he has some numbers to back him up.

The latest Gallup poll, released Thursday, showed Cain, the former honcho of a pizza chain, outpolling, among others, Tim Pawlenty, the two-term governor of Minnesota, and Michele Bachmann, the fiery congresswoman from Minnesota, among Republican presidential aspirants.

The poll, a survey of Republicans and GOP-tilting independents, had Cain at 8%, despite his lack of name recognition. And while nabbing less than 10% in a poll does not a banner headline make, more interesting is a number that Gallup labels “positive intensity”— a measure of how strongly respondents feel about a candidate.

According to the figures, those who know Cain (and, sure, there aren’t all that many)—love the guy. His score was the highest of any potential candidate, Gallup said.

Regardless, Cain has struggled to attract the kind of media attention that Pawlenty, who has also consistently polled in the single digits, regularly is afforded.

The political establishment hasn’t been much kinder. Conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer hit a nerve with Cain supporters last week by calling his campaign “entertainment.” Former Bush strategist Karl Rove chimed in, suggesting that Cain, the former chief executive of Godfather’s Pizza and a long-time Atlanta radio host, lacked the background to be a serious candidate.

Cain, 65, who formally declared his run for president Saturday, scoffed at the assertion Thursday on “Fox and Friends.”

“You don’t have to have worked in politics and in government all your life to be able to solve a problem,” Cain said, insisting his supporters “see something that Karl Rove and the political establishment don’t. "They don’t see it because they’re stuck in the old political paradigm.”

Cain did endure an uncomfortable moment earlier this week when, in an interview with Fox’s Chris Wallace, he flubbed a question concerning whether he believed Palestinians had a right to return to land they once held in Israel as part of a peace accord.

On Thursday, Cain said “there are going to be times when you are caught off guard.”

Cain, an African American who holds strong appeal to "tea party" conservatives and is a favorite on the conference circuit, is hoping to score upsets in Iowa and in South Carolina, close to his base in Atlanta.

Unlike other Republicans in the field, Cain strongly endorsed the Ryan plan to privatize Medicare, even using the term “voucher program,”—a phrase that Ryan himself has eschewed. Under the plan, the government would subsidize private health insurance plans for those 54 and under once they became eligible for Medicare.

Watch the Cain interview Thursday here:

james.oliphant@latimes.com

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