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GOP Field Looking Shaky After Frontrunner Herman Cain’s Libya Gaffe, Sexual Harassment Allegations

Posted on the 15 November 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost

GOP field looking shaky after frontrunner Herman Cain’s Libya gaffe, sexual harassment allegations

Herman Cain. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore,

The Republican presidential nominee field is positively littered with the bodies of fallen frontrunners, with no clear candidate emerging after several big names made some pretty big gaffes.

The latest to stumble has been Herman Cain, the Godfather’s Pizza magnate who has been dogged by claims of sexual harassment from no less than five women. His star already on the wane, his “precarious grasp” on foreign policy may just be another nail in the coffin, The Guardian reported. In a video that went viral, Cain is seen being completely stumped by a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter who asked him what would seem to be a simple foreign policy question: Did he agree with the way President Barack Obama handled the Libyan uprising?

Cain’s halting answer recalls Texas Governor and one-time Republican favouriteRick Perry’s “oops” moment at last week’s candidate’s debate, when he was unable to recall the third federal department he’d axe if he landed in the White House; the other two were “commerce” and “education”. “Oops,” he finally said, after mumbling several “ums” and “uhs”.

But while Cain and Perry’s mistakes are political liabilities for their respective campaigns, they’re also a problem for the GOP as a whole. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, whose candidacy has stayed relatively steady, if middling, throughout, is emerging, grudgingly, as the likeliest candidate;  but with no frontrunner being handed a mandate from the voters, it’s looking less likely the Republicans have a candidate who can challenge incumbent Obama.

Cain’s female problems. Support for Cain, who once topped the polls, has been steadily draining away as it becomes increasingly clear, Laurie Kellman wrote forThe Associated Press, that he has a problem with women – and not just the ones accusing him of sexual harassment. Female voters are abandoning Cain in droves, especially after Cain made several inappropriate remarks, including shrugging off a joke he made about Anita Hill, the woman who accused Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. Now, Cain’s wife, Gloria, has stepped into the fray to defend him against accusations of sexism, but even her intervention doesn’t seem to be enough: Several nationwide polls show that women, who have made up a majority of voters since 1980, believe his accusers and think he ought to end his campaign.

Not just a woman problem. Cain’s most recent gaffe shows that it’s not just his attitude towards women, real or perceived, that’s the problem, Toby Harnden wrote for The Daily Telegraph – “the bigger problem is with his inability to discuss policy in a way that even begins to inspire confidence.”

Four-way heat, no clear winner. Cain is now in a four-way dead heat with Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, and Newt Gingrich ahead of the January 3 Iowa Republican presidential caucuses, according to a Bloomberg News poll. “The poll reflects the race’s fluidity, with 60 percent of respondents saying they still could be persuaded to back someone other than their top choice, and 10 percent undecided. Paul’s support is more solidified than his rivals, while Cain’s is softer.” Some Republican voters are disappointed in the GOP offerings: Bloomberg spoke to one poll participant, 34-year-old Nate Warwick of New Jersey, who attested, “There’s nobody out there who is really grabbing my attention, wholly.”

Democrats, take heart. The Republican debates this time around have attracted some pretty hefty viewership, in no small part fueled by the excess of sex, violence, and embarrassing slips than in the past, Ana Marie Cox noted at The Guardian’s Comment is Free section. But it’s also a spectacle of Republican candidates offering up policies that are opposite of what voters of all stripes say they want, such as Cain’s 9-9-9 tax plan that would cut taxes for the richest Americans when even GOP voters want to raise taxes on that famed 0.01 percent. “[I]n this GOP race the gulf between what putative leaders say they stand for and what voters say they actually want gives me a weird sort of comfort,” she wrote. Any eventual nominee running of the raft of extremely conservative values these candidates are putting forth would surely lose.

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