GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain may have made a sudden leap to the top of the polls recently, but he hasn't lost his appeal among the paranoid faction of the Republican Party. After giving a rousing speech Friday at the Values Voter Summit in DC, a large confab of politically active evangelical conservatives, Cain held a book signing in the lobby of the conference hotel. Among the many people lined up to get a book signed was California lawyer and activist Gary Kreep, who told me why he has also decided to line up behind Cain's campaign.
Kreep heads a number of political organizations, including the US Justice Foundation, the Republican Majority Campaign PAC, and even Defend Glenn, an effort to defend Glenn Beck from attacks by liberal interest groups trying to organize boycotts of his advertisers. But he is best known these days as a birther. He has spent years in court trying to challenge the president's citizenship and his eligibility to be president. In 2009, Kreep even created and starred in a "Birthermercial," a 28-minute infomercial that called on viewers to donate $30 to send a fax to Attorney General Eric Holder asking him to investigate the president's birth certificate.
Kreep told me that in this election, Cain is his man. He was wearing a Cain 2012 button and said he had met Cain in Las Vegas a few months ago, at a private dinner arranged by a politically connected friend. He said he plans on formally endorsing Cain soon. He said that his Republican Majority Campaign had raised and spent $4 million in the last election to defeat Obama and that this year "We're going to be spending a lot of money." Kreep added that, thanks to federal election rules, his PAC couldn't spend money directly supporting Cain, but that he could run an independent expenditure campaign against Obama if Cain wins the GOP nomination.
It's no surprise that Kreep and the birthers like Cain: He's been a regular columnist for WorldNet Daily, the leading purveyor of birther conspiracy theories. And in March, after Donald Trump made the birth certificate issue mainstream, Cain indicated that while he hadn't studied up on it, he was sympathetic to the cause, telling a conservative Florida blog that Obama "should prove he was born in the United States."
But if Cain is counting on Kreep and the birthers to help bankroll an eventual fight against Obama, he probably shouldn't get his hopes up. In 2010, Talking Points Memo pegged Kreep's Republican Majority Campaign as one of the nation's "scammiest conservative direct mail shops." TPM noted that in 2009, Kreep's Republican Majority Campaign raised about $1.7 million, but spent a mere $30,000 supporting candidates or on political activity. The rest went to the PAC officers' salaries and more fundraising appeals. Moreover, given Cain's rise to prominence through the tea party movement, one of his biggest challenges in becoming a serious presidential candidate is going to be finding a way to ditch guys like Kreep without alienating the very people who helped make him a viable candidate in the first place.