By David Weigel
The current frontrunner for the 2012 Republican Party nomination is a 65-year-old black man. Sure, we could talk about how this is a fluke, or how “Herman Cain” is just how voters tell pollsters “I don’t know what to do yet,” or how this is all part of Mitt Romney’s Rube Goldberg plan to become president. All of that may be true, later. For now, the GOP’s current frontrunner is a 65-year-old black man.
Seriously. In three of the last five national polls, Cain has tied or surpassed Romney. In Public Policy Polling’s survey, which dug a little deeper, voters were asked to narrow the field to just Romney and Cain. Hypothetically, Cain led Romney by 12 points. Republican voters really, really like Herman Cain. For the first time since the abortive Colin Powell draft of 1995, a black candidate has led a few polls for the GOP presidential nomination. And Cain, unlike Powell, is serious about this.
“I think Herman’s doing well on the power of his ideas, his vision,” says Steele. “I’d say to Republicans: ‘Look—he’s not a cosmetic fix who’s going to ameliorate that ugly stripe that black people see when they look at you. You’ve got that because over the last 40 years, you’ve done jack to empower them.’ People need to be careful, not to come at this with the attitude that it’s going to fix their image. It’s offensive to Herman. It’s offensive to me as an African-American.”
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