by Randolph T. Holhut
American Reporter Correspondent
September 22, 2011
LET PEOPLE WITHOUT HEALTH INSURANCE DIE? NOT IN VERMONT
ORLANDO, Fla., Sept. 24, 2011 -- The American Reporter was the only publication in the world that flatly predicted Herman Cain would win the Florida Republican Presidential Preference Straw Poll. We did get lucky, but it really happened because we listened well to one person.
Her name was Helen Franta, and she was a delegate from the Brevard County Republican Executive Committee to the Presidential V Conference where the Thursday FoxNews debate occurred and where the straw poll was conducted Saturday afternoon. In between, on Friday, several of the candidates spoke at the Conservative Political Action Committee, or CPAC.
At the debate and the CPAC, Herman Cain made no mistakes. He made a terrific speech that drew a standing ovation Saturday. Moreover, he didn't make anyone angry. What he did was touch them during the debate with his moving story of victory over liver and colon cancer - a deadly combination that is both painful and very difficult to defeat. A very careful, conservative man, he is not your typical risk-taker - but he is a fighter, and lots of people feel America needs one. And what better way to beat a black President than with a black man who has presidential gravitas?
So, he took no risks in Orlando, and never got anyone mad at him. He presented no reason for anyone to vote against him, even if his rhetoric and 9-9-9 plan doesn't necessarily appeal to those giant corporations that now pay no taxes. His story of the battle against cancer was a very powerful one, and it gave people on the fence time to consider if the front-runners, Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, are what they want in a presidential nominee.
By voting for Cain, I felt, they could say to the larger electorate two important things: First, we're not racists, as so many people think we are; and, second, we don't have the right candidate yet. It wasn't a "no" vote on Perry or Romney, but they're not ready to endorse one of them, either.
The news that Gov. Chris Christie was considering run broke big on this crowd Saturday, and their good feelings toward Cain gave them a way to say their man may be Christie, or even Sarah Palin. Her daughter Bristol's brave and forthright run-in with a very nasty gay man in a West Hollywood bar is going to give her mother a boost, I think. That, too, was breaking Saturday. Both bits of news reinforced the idea that there were other contenders still out there.
But we had hard information, too, of a rather unusual kind. Remember Helen Franta? I had to leave the debate earlier than I wanted, but after watching it and talking to Sean Hannity beforehand, and Florida Speaker of the House Dean Cannon and video terrorist Andrew Breitbart (of ACORN and Shirley Sherrod fame) afterwards, I felt I had a story.
The parking lot of the Orange County Convention center is vast, as you might expect. I had to leave quickly afterwards to get back to Bradenton to write my story and repost the paper (as we call our site), and it took me forever to find my car. I was dead tired.
I'm 64, so when I saw an elderly couple - in their mid-70s, close to 80, I'd guess, and clearly looking for their car, I pulled over to help. Helen left her husband to wait, climbed in with me and around the parking lot we went looking for her gold Taurus. It took a while, but eventually, as she clicked her remote key, I heard it far away and managed to identify it. We drove another quarter-mile to the car, and that was it.
I took a little advantage of my help by asking what she thought about the debate, and Rick Perry, in particular. "He just wasn't there," she said, a remark that startled me with its pinpoint accuracy. "He wasn't on his game," she added. Perry finished with 14 percent. Asked about how Romney did, she said, "I think he was more presidential." Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but something Romney that keeps him in the hunt. He finished with 14 percent.
Finally, I asked her what she thought of Herman Cain.
"Enough to vote for him in a straw poll," Helen replied.
I was shocked into silence. I knew what she was telling me. She was saying hundreds of others her age had come to the same conclusion. Herman Cain had not turned anyone off, and he was a safe vote who deserved something for his valiant fight against cancer. Something he could be proud of, and that would be solace in harder days.
Herman Cain would win the straw poll.
I'm sure a lot of people presume that a new candidate like Palin or Christie will take his fresh victory away from Cain in a heartbeat. That will be as easy as taking a freshly killed fawn from the jaws of an 800-pound Bengal tiger. It would be as easy as ripping the ball away from a Super Bowl fullback en route to the winnng touchdown. I wouldn't count on the proposition at all.
So, on Saturday morning around 6am ET, I updated our ticker, which runs on the front page of our Web site and has about 24 items most of the time. The story was our lede (that's how we spell the first paragraph):
I'm a risk-taker.
Write Joe Shea at firstname.lastname@example.org.