A 29-person focus group led by GOP strategist Frank Luntz deemed Cain the hands-down winner of the May 5 GOP debate in South Carolina. And he's shot up to second place in Iowa, behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and is tied at 15 percent with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in the latest survey by Public Policy Polling (PPP).
But Cain remains the longest of long shots for the 2012 Republican nomination. He has never been elected to public office, and admits he knows little about foreign policy. "I don't pretend to know everything," he told the BeanTowne crowd, promising that a President Cain would surround himself with "the right people."
It would be easy to dismiss Cain outright, but in this oddball campaign cycle, anything is possible, it seems. The Republican field is forming slowly and in fits and starts, at times masquerading as a three-ring circus. Billionaire Donald Trump became a P.T. Barnum; smoked out President Obama's long-form birth certificate; then said, nah, I like making money better. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's campaign has imploded with the resignation of his top aides. Several potentially strong contenders have taken a pass – though one, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, is now saying, well, maybe. New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani may also jump in. He'll let us know by the end of the summer.