Herman Cain's campaign: The worst ever?

As Herman Cain considers dropping out of the presidential race, political junkies wonder whether his failed campaign deserves a superlative for ineptitude

Herman Cain, dogged by embarrassing gaffes and devastating accusations of sexual impropriety, may be running the worst presidential campaign in modern history, some pundits say.
(Image credit: Alex /Demotix/Corbis)

Herman Cain, stained by sex scandals and gaffes galore, is still weighing whether to drop out of the GOP presidential race. But his "legacy is already settled," says Jonathan Martin at Politico. From bungling sexual-impropriety accusations to mind-boggling strategic and communications decisions, Cain's campaign has "reached record levels of ineptitude" and will surely "go down as one of the most hapless and bumbling operations in modern presidential politics." Ouch. Does the Cain Train really deserve this dubious distinction?

Perhaps. But the problem is Cain, not his handlers: "Every single example of bumbling and ineptitude that Martin documents is exactly true," says Jonathan Bernstein at A Plain Blog About Politics. Still, Martin's "incredibly myopic examination" of the campaign's shortcomings misses the point. It's silly to blame "poor spin control" for Cain's demonstrably true sexual harassment settlements, or for his embarrassing lack of high school–level foreign policy chops. The insurmountable problem here is Herman Cain, not Herman Cain's campaign.

"The ultimate Politico myopic story"

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Cain's awful campaign has stiff competition: "Campaigns matter," and Martin's "devastating" takedown of Cain's is spot on, says Matt Lewis at The Daily Caller. Still, the bungling wasn't so bad that it kept Cain from once leading the GOP field. That's why the political malpractice at Jon Huntsman's campaign is probably worse. His team's "politically tone deaf" campaign kickoff so needlessly alienated GOP voters that the eminently electable Huntsman never had a shot.

"Cain and Huntsman: Who got the worst campaign advice?"

Remember, running a campaign is harder than it looks: "Campaigns present some unique management problems, particularly when they suddenly catch fire," says Paul Waldman at The American Prospect. Imagine you own a small plumbing company with 10 employees. Then one day, you're suddenly asked to add 100 employees at "dozens of new locations spread across multiple states" — all within the space of a month, and all while "hundreds of reporters ask you uncomfortable questions" about "why you're a crappy plumber." It's not hard to see how Team Cain managed to screw this up so badly.

"Incompetent presidential campaigns aren't the exception..."

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