Cain and Perry campaigns stumble

  • Article by: JILL BURCUM , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 1, 2011 - 8:34 PM

Republican presidential candidate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry

Photo: Charles Krupa, Associated Press

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It's no secret that some Republican primary voters are uneasy with Mitt Romney's conservative credentials and his Mormon religion.

But a disastrous week for key GOP wannabes is yet another indicator that it's time for the party to rally around Romney and quit wasting time with the weak, what-were-they-thinking roster of alternatives.

After nearly a month at the top of the polls, Herman Cain is finally getting a presidential-level vetting. The findings aren't something he can airily dismiss as he did with criticism of his "9-9-9" tax plan.

Cain recently acknowledged that he had been accused of sexual harassment during his time leading the National Restaurant Association.

And while he labeled the allegations a "witch hunt," his selective memory on whether there had been a financial settlement (there was) undermines his campaign's crusading truth-teller theme.

An even more troubling allegation came Sunday in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The paper reported that a Wisconsin political nonprofit may have breached federal tax and campaign laws when it "footed the bill for tens of thousands of dollars in expenses" for Cain's campaign launch.

The political organization is run by Mark Block, Cain's rumpled chief of staff who's featured in a political campaign ad blowing smoke into the camera. Cain as a savvy corporate money guy and breath of fresh air in the White House? That's a tough sell from here on out.

Texas Governor Rick Perry had a bizarre week, too. His tax plan was deservedly drubbed as a giveaway to the rich.

Then Perry made a weird weekend speech in New Hampshire, inspiring unflattering speculation that he'd been drinking.

Among the highlights: Perry cuddling a bottle of maple syrup and vacillating between giddy giggles and an oddly expressed nostalgia for his rural roots: "I grew up on a farm. I grew up having a farm." Watching him is like sitting next to someone at bar-closing time.

This was all good news for Minnesota's Michele Bachmann, who looks relatively good by comparison. That's not saying much, however.

Romney may be boring, but he's not going to scare away major campaign contributors, which is what Cain's and Perry's foibles are likely to do. The GOP base should start getting comfortable with the party's only serious candidate.

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Jill Burcum is a Star Tribune editorial writer.

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