WAVERLY, Tenn.—Herman Cain on Friday became the latest Republican presidential candidate to threaten to boycott the Nevada caucuses if the state doesn’t move its planned Jan. 14 date for the contest.
Cain, who spent the day barnstorming Tennessee, told reporters after a rally in Jackson that he may join several GOP rivals in spurning the contest, which state officials are proposing to move up in defiance of the Republican National Committee’s wishes. As a protest against Nevada’s proposed caucus date – which has New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner threatening to move his state’s traditional first-in-the-nation primary to December – some Granite State Republicans are asking presidential contenders to sign a pledge that they will avoid Nevada.
So far, GOP presidential hopefuls Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman are on board, and Cain indicated he’s leaning that way too.
“We are considering boycotting the caucuses in Nevada,” Cain said, criticizing the “turmoil” caused by Nevada Republicans’ plan to move up the date of its caucuses. His participation in the contest is up in the air, Cain said, “depending upon what they do.”
Cain is not, however, carrying his protest as far as Huntsman, who has also announced plans to skip the next presidential debate, scheduled for Tuesday in Las Vegas.
“The debate,” Cain said, “that’s a different story. We’ve got to look at that. Because if we’ve already made a commitment, I don’t want to break a commitment. But we have not made a commitment to participate in the caucuses.”
Skipping the Nevada caucuses could represent a political sacrifice on Cain’s part. The Georgia businessman, who’s enjoyed a recent surge in the polls, is running a close second in Nevada after former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, according to new numbers by the Democratic Party-aligned think tank Project New West.
Cain’s Common Sense Solutions bus tour through Tennessee has been drawing big, enthusiastic crowds. In his last event of the day, a rally with the Humphreys County Tea Party in Waverly, the candidate had the heavily religious audience breaking out into shouts and “Amens” with a speech that, at one point, included Cain breaking out into Gospel song.