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Cain a smash at Georgia GOP convention

By Gary Reese

May 16, 2011

What Herman Cain is selling, Republicans are buying. Following his strong showing at a national debate of GOP presidential candidates in South Carolina earlier this month, Cain brought his charm and well-honed talking points to the Georgia Republican Party convention on Macon on Saturday.   

He was a smash hit. Delegates again and again erupted in applause as Cain sold himself as a savvy businessman and a clear thinker about today’s political landscape. Cain is expected to make his presidential candidacy official next weekend in Atlanta.   

Cain’s policy agenda is not unlike other announced or prospective GOP presidential candidates: On Saturday he called for lower taxes right away and a national sales tax to replace federal income tax down the road. He also touched on entitlement reform and illegal immigration. And, of course, he criticized President Barack Obama.   

Cain is not considered by most political pundits to have a legitimate shot at winning the Republican nomination for president. It may be partly for that reason that crowds of conservative partisans like Saturday’s in Macon have taken to him so unquestioningly. He seems to be accepted at face value by the GOP faithful. They like his brash, humor-laced approach.  

“He defies the media’s idea of what a Republican is,” said one delegate. “He’s a black entrepreneur who speaks for everyone. That’s something people are warming up to. Plus, he hasn’t held [elective] office before, so he has no record that people can take issue with. He’s popular.”

Cain enjoyed speaking before a larger audience Saturday in Macon than did Newt Gingrich on Friday night at a dinner.

But Gingrich continued to make news  over the weekend. 

Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press" the former U.S. House speaker broke ranks with congressional Republicans and called House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's Medicare proposal "right-wing social engineer."

That could be the first shot in a long-overdue debate among Republicans about exactly what their health care plans are, besides repealing ObamaCare.



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