As it stands right now, Herman Cain finds himself toward the top of the 2012 GOP field's middle pack, staring up at field-leader Mitt Romney and hype-infused insurgent Michele Bachmann. But he's not itching to go on the attack, or so he tells Brian Bolduc and Katrina Trinko in an interview at National Review Online:
"I would make my case [to undecided tea-party voters] not by trashing Bachmann," Cain tells National Review Online in a wide-ranging interview today. "I happen to think that she’s very competent, very capable, and I like the fact that she is helping to deliver the conservative message. On issues, you’re not going to find us too far apart."
"She has been a businesswoman at one point in her career. I have been a businessman my entire career. So I have a longer track record of fixing problems, of turning things around," Cain says, adding that the "diversity of problem situations" he had coped with during his time at Pillsbury, Godfather's Pizza, and the National Restaurant Association gave him more experience than Bachmann gained in her time as a tax attorney.
He won't be targeting frontrunner Mitt Romney on his record or bringing up the Massachusetts health-care program, either. "I'm going to leave that to the media," he says. "They're doing a good job beating him up on that hill. They don’t need my help."
Jon Stewart should feel free to make fun of Mitt Romney, it seems.
Can the decision to unilaterally disarm in the face of the frontrunners work? Color me skeptical, but with Bachmann and Rick Santorum already on the attack against Romney, and the media focused on whether Tim Pawlenty will do the same after his cringeworthy performance in the New Hampshire debate, Cain -- who's casting himself as the above-the-fray non-politician -- might be the one guy in the race who could afford to sit back and let all the GOP establishment figures tear each other apart. Cain's gotten pretty far on charm so far.
Elsewhere in the interview, Cain comes out in favor of reducing the barriers to high-skilled immigrants who want to come to the United States. He continues to play it aloof when it comes to taking stands on foreign policy matters like the war in Afghanistan. “I don’t have access to part of the information," says Cain.
As I've said in the past, I'm genuinely sympathetic to this position. Sooner or later, however, he's going to have to start talking about it, even if it's only to explain his learning process more substantively. Cain could, for example, familiarize himself with the concept of counterinsurgency, and see if it trips his "problem solving" alarms. Cain says he's open to cutting the defense budget -- where he comes down on the matter of long-term overseas counterinsurgency strategy is going to inform where and what he cuts.
Herman Cain In Person [National Review]