Cain Rises at TeaCon 2011: Straw Poll Win, Communications Director Loss, Disagreements With Jack Roeser

-By Warner Todd Huston

Herman Cain wins yet another straw poll of conservative activists. This time at Teacon 2011 held in a northwestern suburb of Chicago. There was no surprise that Cain won the straw poll, but there was some surprise fireworks in the media room and another surprise elsewhere in the Cain campaign as his long-serving Communications Director resigned over the weekend.

Herman Cain was the only candidate that decided to come in person, but to be honest, this crowd was a Cain hotspot even before that. Rep. Michele Bachmann sent in a video address that found favor with the crowd, too. But Cain and she were the only ones to give TeaCon 2011 the time of day.

The results, with over 77% of the vote, put Herman Cain in the lead. And in descending order was Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum -- oddly enough President Obama came in next -- and Jon Huntsman and Gary Johnson came in last.

As Erik Telford said on Twitter, "If you can't beat Obama in a tea party straw poll, it's probably time to end your campaign. (cc: Huntsman and Johnson)."

Ouch, indeed.

I was in the media availability room after Cain's rousing speech (or his "as always rousing speech," if you will) and it was interesting to note that Mr. Cain and one of the chief sponsors of the TeaCon event were not getting along very well. Long-time Chicago-area conservative activist Jack Roeser whose helped sponsor TeaCon 2011, was pressing Cain on his 999 plan and Cain wasn't having any of it.

Roeser and Cain had a private few minutes before the rest of the press was allowed in the room and it appeared that Mr. Roeser was none too happy with Cain’s 999 plan in the meeting. Roeser was pressing the candidate to answer to his concerns. For his part, Cain kept repeating that he had answered the question. The situation was spared from getting any harrier as the door flung open for the rest of the press and we all piled into the room giving Cain the escape hatch of briskly turning his attention to the rest of us and away from Mr. Roeser.

I was one of the first into the room and saw the tail of the exchange between Roeser and Cain but I also knew what it was about. Mr. Roeser has been expressing concerns over Cain's 999 plan previous to the little tussle I witnessed.

To confirm my suspicions and to clear up the snippet I heard, I also spoke to Mr. Roeser afterward. He confirmed my assumptions. I will not, however, divulge the depth and exact details of our conversation -- and it went farther afield than just Cain -- because I did not ask if it was on the record, but I want to report why I am sure of what the argument with Cain was about.

Mr. Jack Roeser and your humble blogger after the Cain appearance

But even as Cain was visiting with us at TeaCon, something concerning his campaign was happening elsewhere. News emerged Saturday that Cain's Communications Director has suddenly resigned.

Now former Com. Director Ellen Carmichael is out of the Cain campaign and being replaced with one-time public affairs officer for the Department of Defense, J.D. Gordon.

Carmichael says the parting was amicable, but it is pretty clear to me that Carmichael, one of Cain's first hires in the early days of the campaign, has been ousted for a more seasoned hand at PR. Especially as the campaign is shifting into high gear with all the straw poll wins and the growing favorable press and exposure. Cain is obviously looking to polish the message and so out with the less experienced Carmichael and in with seasoned pro Gordon.

To wrap up this report, I was in the press availability room as mentioned. So here is the unedited video of the time we had there. (I missed about 20 seconds of the first question about his 999 plan.)


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  • That's a cool hat. (I'm not being sarcastic).

    Hunstman made the deadly mistake of attempting to be reasonable/sane....funny because he would be a viable general election opponent against the President.

  • As to the hat, it is a 1950s era Stetson 7X Clear Beaver fedora. In it's day it was a $100 and that was quite a lot of money for a hat in the 50s. It was one of Stetson's finest hats made when Stetson was at it's height of success and capabilities.

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