CONCORD, N.H. — Seizing modest momentum in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, businessman Herman Cain promised to invest in additional staff and campaign more aggressively in New Hampshire and Iowa.
"We have run this very lean by design. We are now going to ramp up," he told reporters near the New Hampshire State House Wednesday afternoon. "We now have the money to do so. I didn't want to get out in front and commit to spending a whole lot of money before I knew that the American people were going to say, `You know what? This long shot may not be such a long shot.'"
Cain, the former chief executive of Godfather's Pizza, has jumped into second place in some national polls following the repeated stumbles of Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
But unlike Perry, Cain has put little effort into visiting early voting states or building a ground game in the states where presidential contests are typically won and lost. Cain launched a recent book tour that fueled speculation he was more interested in profiting from his growing national profile than winning the election.
"The book tour is over," Cain declared Wednesday, vowing to add staff in New Hampshire and Iowa and bring his campaign bus to the Granite State in the coming weeks. He hadn't visited New Hampshire since midsummer.
But there are signs that New Hampshire Republicans are open to a Cain candidacy.
He briefly addressed the State House of Representatives earlier in the day and drew larger applause than competitors like Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann or former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
Cain also announced a handful of new endorsements, including the recently-departed state Republican Party Chairman Jack Kimball.
He acknowledged, however, that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney enjoyed a huge lead in the polls. Indeed, Republicans here and elsewhere have begun to embrace the likelihood that Romney will capture the Republican nomination in the coming months.
"It may not be possible to overcome his big lead, but it is possible to close that gap," Cain said.
A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll of Republican primary voters released Wednesday shows that Cain doing just that. The poll found Romney and Cain in a dead heat, while Perry dropped to 16 percent. Cain was the first choice of 27 percent of those surveyed, while Romney held firm at 23 percent. The poll, which was taken Oct. 6-10, had a margin of error of 5.35 percent.
And in a race that has seen its share of shifting storylines, Cain insisted he's not the flavor of the week."Haagen Dazs black walnut tastes good all the time," he said with a smile.