This separates him from Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, whose candidacies quickly fell after being piled on in the debates. As a matter of fact, Cain has a slight lead nationally in the RealClearPolitics poll average. His campaign says he is now raising $1 million per week. At the same time, Rick Perry intends to use his large war chest for a “total destroy mission” against Romney, in the words of someone familiar with his campaign’s plans. This will take negative attention away from Cain, and brings to mind the mutually caused destruction of the Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt campaigns in 2004.
The Iowa caucus comes on January 3. Cain has a 5.5% lead in the RealClearPolitics average. Should he win, there will be a media firestorm, and in all probability Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann will drop out. Rick Perry’s campaign will be injured, probably fatally. All of their support goes to Cain.
Mitt Romney will win New Hampshire (likely on January 10). This eliminates Jon Huntsman, whose miniscule number of supporters he will take.
South Carolina comes on January 21. Here, RCP’s average has him with a 5.7% lead today. Gingrich’s campaign depends upon winning this state, and if Cain wins Iowa, it’ll be hard to see how he overcomes Cain’s momentum. He and Perry are gone if Cain wins. At this point, Cain has rallied the anti-Romney vote behind his candidacy, and he is the favorite to win the nomination.
Cain now has two options. He can move forward with the debate and plan on criticizing Gingrich, such as by mentioning his support for the individual mandate. He’ll have to be extra careful not to make a gaffe worth reporting, as no broadcast networks currently plan to cover it. He can hope that not many people will see Gingrich at his best. Or, he can find an excuse to drop out. It’ll be obvious he realized he made a mistake, but if his supporters stuck with him through the last debate, they’ll stick with him through that decision.
Herman Cain’s campaign is in a position that very few people, especially in the media, ever thought it would approach. Debating Gingrich one-on-one is a gamble he doesn’t need to make.
Also see: Dem Wit: GOP Likes Cain Because ‘He’s a Black Man Who Knows His Place’”
And check out: Is Karen Finney Secretly Working for Herman Cain?