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The Trail: 2012 Presidential News from the Field / CAMPAIGN 2012

Cain Draws 1,000 in Alabama

First-time politician is avoiding the early-voting states.

Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain gestures during a speech at the Values Voter Summit on Friday, Oct. 7, 2011, in Washington.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

photo of Lindsey Boerma
October 28, 2011

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- For the fourth day in a row, Herman Cain drew upwards of 1,000 supporters to a rally in a state that is likely to have zero impact on the Republican presidential nominating contest in which he’s currently a leading contender.

A packed house – standing room only, replete with pro-Cain sign-wavers lining the street outside – awaited the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO at the RSA Activity Center here Friday. “Rock you like a Herman Cain,” a spoof of the Scorpions’ classic, blared through the sound system.

To massive applause throughout, Cain thrilled the audience with his favorite applause lines, including “9-9-9!” as the crowd chimed in, as well as more unconventional campaign points. Playing to residents of a state long central to the U.S. space program, Cain praised former President John F. Kennedy for his “inspirational leadership” in advancing space exploration.

 

By contrast, Cain said that President Obama “has cut our space program to the point that we now have to bum a ride with the Russians in order to get to outer space,” he continued to hoots and applause Friday. “That’s not what the United States wants to happen! We’re used to being a leader in the space program, and ... we’re gonna be leader of the space program again!”

On Saturday, Cain will stump in Huntsville, Ala., home to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. But his swing through Alabama is just the latest in a series of campaign stops that seem questionable for a candidate who could be capitalizing on his newfound surge in the polls in the five early voting states: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina, and Florida.

Instead, on Thursday Cain headlined an annual Lincoln Day Dinner in Springdale, Ark., selling out the 900-seat venue and shattering previous attendance records for the event, which has previously been keynoted by Cain’s GOP rival Newt Gingrich and 2008 conservative favorite Mike Huckabee. Cain enjoyed similar turnouts for events in Texas on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Cain’s irregular stump route has given rise to theories about his potential motives away from the White House. During a press conference preceding his formal filing for the Alabama primary Friday, Cain denied the speculation.

“We are in it to win it, to dispel that other myth about why I am doing this,” he said. “Like I wanna do it to get a TV show or a book deal? I got books already! I don’t want a TV show!”

So why is he campaigning in Alabama, whose primary isn’t until March?

“I’m in Alabama because Alabama matters, even though a lot of people think that you’re supposed to give all of the attention to the early states. Yes, the early states are important, but Alabama matters because of the compression of the primary schedule,” he said, adding to applause from supporters. “Alabama matters because the people here matter. And your issues matter!”

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