Former Godfathers’ Pizza CEO Herman Cain is now showing he can deliver more than pizza and refurbished pizza franchise stores: he has delivered a big, fat, pie of problems for up-until-now front runner Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. He is now leading in a major CBS News/NYTimes poll — as Romney finds himself enmeshed in a political controversy that could further hurt him with conservative GOPers.
Businessman Herman Cain is now atop the field of Republican White House hopefuls, squeaking past former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the latest CBS News/New York Times poll.
Cain garnered 25 percent support of Republican primary voters in the poll released on Tuesday, compared to Romney’s 21 percent.
The poll was conducted Oct 19-24 among 1,650 adults. 1,475 interviews were conducted among registered voters and 455 voters who said they plan to vote in a Republican primary. The margin of error among primary voters is plus or minus four percentage points.
Cain’s support surged among voters who identified with the conservative Tea Party wing of the Republican party, rising to 32 percent in mid-October from 18 percent just a few weeks ago. That’s more than four times the level of support he had from the group in mid-September.
Romney is likely to now face a triple pincer movement: (1)the challenge from Cain (2)Perry unloading millions of dollars in negative advertising that will reduce Romney’s number (3) a new controversy in Ohio where Romney’s attempt not to alienate the country’s middle that he’ll need to be elected if he gets the nomination could further impede his road to the nomination.
Here’s that story:
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney stepped into the middle of the charged battle over organized labor in Ohio on Tuesday, but he avoided weighing in on the contentious legislation that would dramatically limit the collective bargaining rights of public sector unions.
The former Massachusetts governor visited an Ohio Republican Party phone bank in the suburbs of Cincinnati, where GOP volunteers were contacting voters about two hot-button measures that will be on the Nov. 8 ballot.
One of them, Issue 2, would ratify Senate Bill 5 – the controversial legislation backed by Republican Gov. John Kasich that curbs collective bargaining rights for public employees.
Another measure, Issue 3, would amend the state constitution to forbid the state and federal government from imposing a mandate to buy health insurance.
Romney expressed generic support for Kasich’s efforts to curtail union rights, but he would not say whether he supports or opposes the specific measures.
“I am not speaking about the particular ballot issues,” Romney said, only after repeated questions from reporters. “Those are up to the people of Ohio. But I certainly support the efforts of the governor to reign in the scale of government. I am not terribly familiar with the two ballot initiatives. But I am certainly supportive of the Republican Party’s efforts here.”
Both topics are tricky for the Romney campaign.
He is no stranger to health insurance mandates, having passed one of his own in 2006 while governor of Massachusetts.
Romney will come under fierce attack now from conservative talk show hosts, conservative cable hosts and many conservative bloggers. We are likely to now see an especially fierce three-person race with Perry trying to knock off Cain and Romney, Romney playing defense and Cain having a great opportunity to assemble an organization and raise money with his rising poll numbers. If not, look for a fierce Perry-Romney struggle with Romney’s position anmong conservatives further weakened by his refusal to take a firm stand in Ohio.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.