COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Nearly 1,000 people on Thursday turned out for a book signing for businessman and presidential candidate Herman Cain in the heart of Rick Perry territory, as clear a sign as any that Cain has become a force in the Republican presidential primary.
At a book-signing for Cain’s recently published memoir, people packed the aisles of Hastings Bookstore in College Station, home of Texas A&M University, Perry’s alma mater, to have Cain sign their copies of This Is Herman Cain! My Journey to the White House. The bookstore had only 550 books on hand and sold out in minutes.
One Texas woman told Cain, “We like our governor, but we like you more.”
During a briefing for reporters, Cain was asked about his third-quarter fundraising, another barometer of a candidate’s momentum. He declined to give an exact number as Perry has done, but said, “The money this quarter is very, very respectable.”
“We’re not gonna set any records,” he added but said the campaign has avoided going into debt. “This is like a new business,” said Cain, former chief executive officer of the Godfather’s Pizza chain. “I’m running it as a business, and that is, I don’t want to spend more money than we’re able to cover, and that’s how I’m gonna do the job as president of the United States of America.”
The Perry campaign announced this week that he had raised $17 million in the third-quarter reporting period, a figure expected to be competitive with front-runner Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who has yet to announce his total. The candidates’ actual reports for the period ending on Sept. 30 are due on Oct. 15.
Cain’s campaign has been on an upswing ever since his strong performance in recent GOP debates and his victory in the Florida Republican straw poll last month. At the same time, Perry’s momentum has slowed to a crawl, in part because of weak debate performances.
Cain said earlier on Thursday that he would consider running as vice president if he doesn’t become the GOP nominee but that he would not agree to be Perry’s running mate. He cited his differences with Perry on the issue of illegal immigration, but he made no mention of a race-based controversy surrounding a hunting camp owned by Perry’s family.
The Washington Post reported on Sunday that the Perrys had purchased a camp known locally as “Niggerhead,” and that the word had been painted on a rock near the entrance. Perry maintained that his father painted over the word on the rock as soon as he bought the place, and Cain, who is black, subsequently said he believed Perry.