Wow. Our experiment is off to a great start—let's see if we can finish it off sooner than expected.
GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain was in DC this morning, ostensibly to talk about his "9-9-9" tax plan at the conservative think tank, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). While the Washington press corp was circling like vultures in the hopes of getting a crumb of a quote about the sexual harassment allegations now dogging Cain's campaign, tea party activists, who've been some of his strongest supporters, tuned in to actually listen to Cain talk about his policy proposals. And they weren't impressed by with they saw.
During the discussion, Cain was asked a specific question about whether or not his tax plan would lead to double taxation of certain types of income. Cain couldn't answer the question, and deferred to his new economic adviser, Rich Lowrie, an Ohio "wealth management adviser." The deflection outraged Kellen Guida, the founder of the NYC Tea Party who's been active in tea party politics since the movement's beginning. He tweeted angrily:
Later, he added:
Guida told me afterward that he was disappointed with Cain's ability to defend his own, bold tax plan.
Guida says he is not the only person in the tea party movement who wonders about Cain's depth of understanding of major policy issues. "I was on the phone with an organizer the other day who was ranting and raving about his inability to articulate a policy position on anything," he said, explaining that it's becoming a common sentiment among the tea party base, even as Cain is actively trying to engage tea partiers to shore up his ground operation.
Guida thinks that Cain's policy problems may be more damaging than the sexual harassment allegations that have surfaced, which he thinks, on their own, won't have much of an impact on Cain's support among tea partiers. What those allegations will do, he suspects, is exacerbate the problems Cain has in defending his own proposals, as was the case with the tax questions at AEI. "If you’re running for president, you have to be able to answer those questions," he said.