Herman Cain has fared well in straw polls and is seen as a standout to take on Barack Obama.
Unless rhetorically powerful President Barack Obama does something stunningly extraordinary soon, he’ll be a one-term White House occupant – like Democrat, Jimmy Carter.
And, ironically, this increasingly likely outcome will be due to a man who, like former president Carter, hails from Georgia.
Although Herman Cain, who a few months ago facetiously dubbed himself ‘the dark horse candidate’, must still win the Republican Party’s nomination, he is no longer being seen as an outsider.
When Cain threw his hat into the ring in May for next year’s presidential race, most pundits assumed he would be an early casualty in his party’s gruelling round of televised straw poll debates and hand-shaking campaigning.
But six months on, he is being seen as a possible winner.
Cain’s impressive performances over several debates and credible straw-poll showings mean he is no longer being ignored.
Increasing numbers are coming to view him as the rising standout candidate, someone with the presence and stature needed to sweep the Republicans back into the White House.
Who then is Herman Cain?
Cain, born in the south, is first and foremost a successful and eloquent businessman, someone who promises to take his optimistic can-do predisposition to an increasingly downcast and sombre Washington.
That, more than anything, is making him appealing to growing numbers of voters.
Unlike so many black politicians, Cain does not wear the fact he is black on his sleeve.
Quite the contrary.
When asked how black voters would react to a black Republican he said he had begun with a disadvantage because blacks had been brainwashed by leftist-oriented Democrat politicians.
“Now, the good news is I happen to believe that a third to 50 per cent of the black Americans in this country, they’re open-minded,” he said.
“I meet them every day. They stop me in the airport.
“And so this whole notion that all black Americans are necessarily going to stay and vote Democrat and vote for Obama, that’s simply not true.
“More and more black Americans are thinking for themselves. And that’s a good thing.”
Cain believes he’s cutting into black Democrat support so, if nominated, sizeable numbers of African-Americans will back him.
“I do believe a third (of black Americans) would vote for me, based upon my own anecdotal feedback,” he said.
“Now, they won’t be voting for me because I’m black, they’ll be voting for me because of my policies.”
As well as his standout business background, he’s a columnist, author and popular Georgia radio host.
Cain holds a mathematics master’s degree and was a US navy ballistics expert.
On leaving the navy he became an analyst with Coca-Cola Company, headquartered in his home city of Atlanta.
He later managed Pillsbury subsidiary, Burger King, after which he headed another of its divisions, the Godfather’s Pizza chain.
Both operations became profitable.
In 1988, he and an investment team acquired Godfather’s Pizza, with Cain remaining as CEO until 1996.
He moved to head the National Restaurant Association and served a term as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
Cain is a minister in his Baptist church.
“I succeeded in business for over 40 years by asking the right questions of the right people about the right problems to get the right solutions,” he said.
“That’s what most successful people do and I would do the same thing as president of the US.”
His political turnaround came last month when he surprised experienced pundits by winning Florida’s straw poll, beating favourite, Texas governor Rick Perry.
When quizzed about this, he emphasised that it again confirmed the message was more powerful than money.
Cain’s program includes drastically slashing taxes on businesses and ordinary taxpayers.
He calls this Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan that is to be implemented in two stages.
His approach is therefore to swing America’s economy in the opposite direction to the Rudd-Gillard-Greens tax-boosting path.
Cain says it aims to achieve the broadest possible tax base along with the lowest possible taxing rate – just 9 per cent.
“It ends the payroll tax completely – a permanent holiday – includes zero capital gains tax; ends the death tax and eliminates double taxation of dividends,” Cain said.
And there’s to be a 9 per cent national sales tax.
“My message of common-sense solutions is resonating with people,” Cain said.
The 9-9-9 plan to thoroughly revamp the tax code is rapidly becoming a household term.
Forgotten is the fact that Cain briefly ran for the 2000 Republican presidential nomination.
Hot on the heels of his turning-point Florida win, Cain’s campaign team released his latest book – This is Herman Cain – My Journey to the White House – described by one reviewer as Cain’s “autobiography/campaign manifesto”.
Chapter 12, titled, The Cain Administration: The First Ninety Days, carries this passage.
“As in every executive position I’ve ever undertaken, I will determine the parameters of my activities,” Cain writes.
“And, while I respect those who have served before me, I will not follow in their footsteps.
“I will create new footsteps. I will reduce the number of protocol-oriented events that presidents are seemingly required to attend.
“At a time of deepening national crisis, I simply cannot afford to allocate valuable time to things that do not advance solutions to this nation’s problems.
“That’s why I have decided to sharply decrease the number of inaugural night balls.
“Instead, Mrs Cain and I will host a series of celebratory occasions and they will be spread out during my first months in office.
“My guest lists for state dinners and other important occasions will be light on A-list celebrities and heavy on normal Americans who work each day to restore our nation to greatness.
“And, unlike the practice of certain previous administrations, there will be no ‘paying’ guests staying in the Lincoln bedroom.
“Once each month I plan to invite small groups of average citizens to join me for dinner and conversation.
“As someone who will have to spend most of my working hours in Washington, these events will make it possible for me to take the nation’s pulse on the pressing issues, as well as to stay connected to the people.”
In interviews Cain emphasises he is fallible. “I don’t claim to know everything,” he says.
He maintains he will also assess all issues on merit. “I don’t pander to groups,” he says.
He will undoubtedly be disliked by America’s powerful leftist establishment, including by many in the media. “I am terrible at political correctness,” he says.
Cain remains cautious in commenting on foreign relations issues.
But the news here is also encouraging for Australia, with our long-standing US treaty, defence, intelligence and trade links.
“To be clear,” Cain says, “I want to be out of Afghanistan and all war-torn countries as much as the next person.
“But I’m not going to propose a half-baked plan based on half the information I would need to make the right decision, just to pretend I know everything.
“On the other hand, I do know enough about our solid relationship with Israel and I would make that relationship even stronger, which isn’t just about dollars.
“And, I would not be hesitant to let the rest of the world know that we will stand by and with our friends.”