Visiting this week for a bus tour, the former CEO of Godfather's pizza sells himself with an all-business pitch
Herman Cain speaks at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in Washington, D.C. June 4. Credit: Hyungwon Kang/Reuters
MARSHALLTOWN, IOWA -- In a full, small side room of Legends American Grill, a spacious sports-themed eatery at the edge of a WalMart Supercenter parking lot on Wednesday, Herman Cain holds his audience rapt with tales of troubleshooting told with a dash of down-home sass. Asked to distinguish himself from his competitors, Cain says, "I'm a problem-solver, not a politician." By which he means he is not useless. The audience learns that 400-some Burger Kings in the greater Philadelphia area shot from worst to first in profits in just three short years of Herman Cain's adroit direction. Cain roundly rejects the relevance of political experience to effective public administration. What have politicians brought us but a pileup of deepening problems, an appointment with doom and pain? Cain's pitch to the mostly gray-haired group assembled at the Marshalltown stop of the Iowa Tea Party bus tour is that, if elected president, he will do for America what he has done for also-ran chains of pizza parlors and burger joints. He will rescue America from brink of ruin, restore luster to our tarnished crown.
Business is problem-solving. Herman Cain is all business. Elect Herman Cain: problem solved. This is his proposition.
At about noon, Cain alights from a sleek black sedan outside Legends, where he is greeted in the drizzle by a smattering of journalists. Before heading into the restaurant to address the expectant room, a Swiss television crew and a few reporters are ushered with Cain up the steps of an aging Holiday Rambler motor home parked nearby. The middle third of the "bus" is covered in a giant, jumbled, color decal that reads "Return to a Golden Foundation," "Train the Tea Party," and "www.teapartybustour.com" in big block letters above logos for the tour's sponsors--Iowa Tea Party, Gold Standard 2012, Leadership Institute, Tea Party Review--all printed atop a misty image of Old Glory superimposed over a parchment Constitution turned at 45 degrees. "People" of "We the People" is divided by the support post of a retracted retractable awning. The Holiday Rambler is fired up and taken for a slow spin around the WalMart lot and its various frontage and access roads, presumably so Swiss TV viewers can see Cain fielding questions while something like scenery slides by in a blur behind him, as if chatting amiably with newsmen while crisscrossing Iowa in a used recreational vehicle is something Herman Cain actually does.