On Fox News Channel’s “America’s Newsroom” on Tuesday, network senior political analyst Brit Hume attempted to make sense of recent “odd” decisions by GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain, including accusing GOP campaign strategist Karl Rove of picking on him and releasing a web ad of his chief of staff touting Cain’s accomplishments while smoking a cigarette.
The unconventional web ad is “sort of a metaphor for the Cain campaign,” Hume said. “You can never quite figure out what the guy is quite up to. You know, if he were a conventional candidate he would be campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire and working feverishly to raise money to do so. Instead, he keeps to a travel schedule which seems at times more designed to help him sell his book than it does to help him get nominated for president. The ad, I don’t know what they think they can accomplish — it’s only a web ad. You know, it may not see the light of day many places except that its sheer oddness means it is getting played right here on Fox. And what you get out of having some miscellaneous middle-aged guy smoking a cigarette and saying you’re the right candidate is mystery to me.”
As for the back-and-forth Cain has had with Rove, Hume said that was ill-advised and cautioned against giving too much credence to a recent CBS News/New York Times poll that gave Cain a four-point edge over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and a 15-point edge over former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.
“That’s another odd thing to say,” Hume said. “Look, if you’re running for president you don’t want to get into a fight with Karl Rove. That makes no sense. The thing to watch on that poll … [is] it’ s plus or minus 4 percent margin of error … which means theoretically Romney could be 25 and Cain could be at 21 and Gingrich could be at 14 or 6.”
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Hume chalked the Cain phenomenon up to a combination of Romney not giving a lot of confidence to conservative Republican voters and Cain’s ability to use the Republican debates to his advantage.
“Look, there is no doubt there are very severe misgivings among the Republican electorate — which is generally conservative — about Mitt Romney,” he said. “Conservatives are not convinced, and haven’t been for a long time, that Romney is one of them. It put a ceiling on his standing as number one choice in the polling. So, you know, Herman Cain right now is the beneficiary of that. How long that will last remains to be seen.”
As the primary campaign season ratchets up, Hume said, “we’re getting close to the time where you will need organization. You’re going to need to turn out the vote. People will be voting soon. You need to campaign. You need to have advertising up in a lot of states. And at that moment it will be become more difficult for candidates who haven’t built that kind of infrastructure and done the traditional kind of campaigning to maintain their standing.”