Presidential candidate Herman Cain speaks to delegates during the Republican… (Phelan Ebenhack/Reuters )
Herman Cain, the GOP presidential flavor of the moment, argues that he can peel away a third of the African American vote from President Obama, which if true, has the potential to unsettle electoral calculations in 2012.
Speaking on Fox News on Monday night, Cain, whose presidential ambitions were lifted by a weekend straw poll win in Florida, is still riding a wave of positive publicity though he still trails badly in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. The latest national poll shows him at 7%, tied with Sarah Palin the former governor of Alaska and GOP vice presidential nominee, who has yet to declare her intentions.
“The African American vote, I am confident, based upon black people that I run into, black people that used to call my radio show, black people that have signed up on my website to support me. I believe, quite frankly, that my campaign, I will garner a minimum of a third of the black vote in this country and possibly more,” Cain said Monday night.
He also criticized Obama's comments at a Congressional Black Caucus awards dinner over the weekend. Obama exhorted the crowd to work harder to help him achieve his program. Republicans including Cain, and conservative critics argued that the president seemed to be hectoring his supporters.
“I expect all of you to march with me and press on,” Obama said. “Take off your bedroom slippers, put on your marching shoes. Shake it off. Stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying. We are going to press on. We’ve got work to do, CBC. “
Congressional lawmakers and others have criticized Obama for not doing enough to help the African American community in these difficult economic times that have hit the poor much harder. In the 2008 election, polls showed that Obama, the first African American president, received 96% of the black vote, traditionally a bulwark of the Democratic Party. African Americans were about 13% of the turnout in 2008.
As he has often, Cain argued in television appearances Monday that “growing this economy is what's foremost on the minds of black Americans, Hispanic Americans, all Americans,” he said, adding later that “the unemployment rate for black people is nearly 17%, instead of the 9%, they're looking for something that's going to boost this economy.”