[Posted by Karl]
All together: “It’s a new type of campaigning!”
On a whirlwind trip through New York City this week that marked the beginning of a nearly monthlong book tour, Herman Cain chatted with the hosts of ABC’s “The View,” promoted his new memoir on Fox News, met local titans like Donald Trump, shared ideas with former Mayor Edward I. Koch and enjoyed power lunching in Midtown.
Mr. Cain, a contender for the Republican presidential nomination, did all but one thing — campaign. Not in the traditional meet-the-public and kiss-the-babies sense, anyway.
And according to his public campaign calendar of events, where 19 of the 31 days of October are blank, there will not be much glad-handing in the immediate future. That is just fine with Mr. Cain, a former business executive who has recently surged to the top tier of candidates in early polls. ***
But it is not clear that Mr. Cain, 65, has any particular plan to seize this moment, beyond using the attention to sell books. Like the other candidates vying to become credible alternatives to Mr. Romney and Mr. Perry, Mr. Cain is operating on a shoestring. He raised $2 million last spring. More money is coming in, he said, and he has 40 staff members, mostly in Southern states. Still, an adviser to the campaign said the campaign had only four people working in Iowa, and there is no plan to change strategy.
Ah, yes: a new type of campaigning. Remember Fred Thompson? He was going to do a new type of campaign based on new media and such. He was not keen on retail politics. His campaign did not end well.
How about Newt Gingrich? His campaign seems to involve vacationing and promoting a book and a documentary. After his campaign team resigned en masse, Newt explained: “There is a fundamental strategic difference between the traditional consulting community and the kind of campaign I want to run.” He is currently running a new and exciting kind of fourth-place campaign, based mostly on the goodwill of those who like him attacking the establishment moderators of the GOP debates.
Many of Gingrich’s campaign staff, notably Dave Carney, jumped to Rick Perry’s campaign. Is Perry is arguably trying a new sort of campaign? It remains to be seen whether Perry’s campaign tactics, scientifically tested in statewide elections, scale to a national campaign. However, the political scientists who conducted experiments within the campaign advised Perry that what matters most is old skool retail politics, which is the sort of approach expected in early GOP contests like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
And what of Sarah Palin, who announced yesterday she would not run in 2012? Last month, she was still claiming she did not believe she needed an old-style campaign based on county chairmen, finance committees, endorsements, and months of hand-shaking. Palin apparently thought she could piggyback on book and movie promotions (a la Gingrich) and reap the benefits of a late entry (a la Thompson and arguably Perry). Palin apparently thought better of the idea.
Similarly, we were told that if Donald Trump actually ran for president, it would be based on television and social media. The Donald is not a hand-shaker. And, as it turned out, not a candidate for the GOP nomination.
Every four years, we get to complain about the self-importance of those in Iowa and New Hampshire and their demands for retail politics. We get to complain that two small states, in many ways unrepresentative of the nation in general, have a disproportionate influence on the nomination process. However, the process has not changed for 2012. Increasingly, there are candidates or phantom candidates who think they can buck the system, but the track record of these candidacies or phantom candidacies has not been good. Accordingly, when I see that Cain’s communications director and her assistant have resigned to pursue other professional opportunities at the moment where he has decided to promote a book rather than capitalize in more traditional ways on surging poll numbers, my eyebrow arches.