Romney-Cain or Cain-Romney

Herman Cain is a rising star in the Republican Party sweepstakes for the presidential nomination, while Willard Romney-aka Mitt Romney has been down this road before. Cain, the millionaire former CEO of Godfather Pizza and executive at Pillsbury and Burger King, has caught the attention of the Republican base, especially with his simple tax message of 9-9-9. What Cain is proposing is a complete scrapping of the existing tax code to be replaced by a 9% flat tax on income, a 9% corporate tax and a 9% national sales tax.  No deductions, no loopholes, no Social Security tax, no estate tax, just 9-9-9.

Because Cain is an articulate, energetic and persuasive campaigner, he has quickly risen to the top of the hill of Republican candidates and in some polls has moved beyond Mitt Romney, the so-called establishment candidate. While Cain is surging, Romney appears to have hit a wall of around 20% support in large part because of his mandated health care program in Massachusetts, where he was governor, plus continued questions about his Mormon faith.

Cain’s popularity can be attributed to the fact that he brilliantly recognizes that the American voter doesn’t want long-winded economic proposals ala Romney for getting the country back on track or empty promises about job creation. Rather Cain’s 9-9-9 proposal sounds like one of those brand new solutions that makes sense and stays in the mind of the electorate like a favorite lyric form a favorite song. Never mind that most independent economists have already shown that middle class Americans would pay more in taxes under 9-9-9 than they are paying now under our broken tax system.

Added to the pitfalls of 9-9-9 is Cain’s credentials. Cain comes to the Republican nomination table with little political experience, an accountant for his economic adviser and nothing to show for in terms of national security or foreign policy prowess or even a modest background in domestic issues. He can talk a good game, but that may not be enough to win the golden ring.  

So the talk around Republican circles is the dream team of Romney-Cain, an establishment businessman for these tough times and an African-American businessman with new ideas and a simple message. The way the GOP pundits see it Cain could pull black votes away from Barack Obama and hold the Tea Party base, while Mitt goes after the independents and the moderate Republicans. This could indeed be a winning combination. The only problem is that Cain is feeling his oats and is not in the mood to play second fiddle to Mitt. As for Mitt, he hopes that Cain is a short term annoyance, but if not, Cain-Romney just might be the ticket.

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