Herman Cain no longer has his sights on the White House, but the one-time Republican presidential frontrunner swung through Raleigh on Wednesday with a new campaign that preaches to the conservative choir and targets familiar foes.
Cain is on a "Truth Tour" that is reminiscent, at least in its promotion and message, of the 9-9-9 tax plan that briefly propelled Cain to the top of polls last year.
30 days, 30 cities, and 3 events each day – meetings with religious and community leaders every morning; lunch with business leaders in the afternoon; crowds of college students at night.
In a ballroom at the North Raleigh Hilton at noon, Cain told a crowd of 50 plus businessmen and supporters that he will return to radio in January when he takes over the three-hour spot occupied by Neal Boortz that is syndicated nationwide.
Cain said that will give him just what he needs to continue a favorite pastime: "I'm gonna piss off a lot of liberals in that time," he said. For now, the tour is a means to that end.
He described Mitt Romney to attendees – who were also occupied with grilled chicken, vegetables and cheesecake – as the only choice this November, even if he wasn’t their first choice. He took a shot at Republicans who sat out the 2008 election because of lacking enthusiasm for John McCain.
“This ain’t about your excitement about (Mitt) Romney,” said Cain. “It’s about saving the greatest country in the world.”
What's going to cause the end of the United States as we know it?
A pamphlet called the “2012 Issues Guide for Employees” – passed around at the event by Jobs Creators Solutions, a political nonprofit Cain founded, which is running the tour – gives a glimpse at Cain's reasoning.
In the pamphlet, Romney is described as supportive of energy independence, Obama as restrictive of energy development for opposing the Keystone XL pipeline; Romney is anti-Obamacare, Obama, not so much; Romney wants lower, simpler taxes, while Obama wants to increase taxes on 75 percent of small businesses.
Cain mimicked those talking points and similar ones, obviously interpreted differently by Obama camp, were repeated in Cain's speech. The crowd nodded approval and cheered along the way.
Even though Cain's rhetoric sounded a lot like that of a campaign, he said in an interview after the event not to expect to see his name on a ballot again anytime soon.
A U.S. Senate seat is up for contest in 2014 in Cain's home state of Georgia, but Cain said he will not oppose the incumbent Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss – or anyone else, for that matter.
"I have no interest in running for any public office," Cain said. "At this point in my life, it's not appropriate for me to quote unquote climb the political ladder."
Now his mission to educate voters and win them over to free-market economics, through the tour, his radio show, and other media appearances.
"You won't be able to turn on anything, listen to anything, read anything, without seeing me," Cain said.
Among his continuing goals is to take conservative principles to young voters in a way that has evaded Republicans in the past.
The 66-year-old Cain is the center of a recurring segment on The Daily Show called Herman Cain: An American Presidency, in which he plays what-if and describes his first term as president. The clipps defy description but speak on their own, and Cain said it's that type of messaging – humor followed by substance – that gets across.
"I resonate with them because I believe in taking out a conservative message to them, where they get there news," he said. "They get it on the Colbert Report, on The Daily Show, so that's where I go."