It may be time to take GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain seriously.
Over the weekend, Cain, the only Black Republican candidate seeking the presidential nomination, won the Florida Straw Poll, which has predicted the Republican nominee every time since its inception.
Cain came in third in the recent Michigan Straw Poll, trailing former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, who once called Michigan his home, and Gov. Rick Perry of Texas.
And Cain, 65, has done exceedingly well in all the debates, with many pundits and commentators feeling he won the first encounter several weeks ago.
But winning debates and straw polls are momentary things-a fact to which the Rev. Al Sharpton and gubernatorial candidate Jimmy McMillan can readily attest.
Even so, Cain, the former chief executive of Godfather’s Pizza, is gaining more traction than many of the other candidates, including his better-known opponents Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul.
In the Florida Straw Poll, Cain led with 37.1 percent of the tally, with Perry capturing 15.4 percent for second place.
But polls are but a snapshot, and straw polls are not reliable indicators given the smaller turnouts and the tendency to favor candidates connected with the region, as Michigan did for Romney and Iowa for Bachmann. Romney got more than half of the 681 votes in the Michigan poll cast by the Republican activists.
Cain received 9 percent of the vote in Michigan for his third-place finish but garnered 14 percent of the vote for second place in the vice presidential race.
So who is this Citizen Cain?
A native of Georgia, Cain is a graduate of Morehouse College and obtained his master’s degree in computer science from Purdue University. At the start of his business career, he worked at the Coca-Cola company, before going on to manage successfully Burger King outlets in Philadelphia.
His next stop was the Nebraska-based Godfather’s Pizza, where his ingenuity and creativity proved rewarding once again. During his tenure there, he launched an innovative advertising campaign and removed unpopular items from the menu.
The transition from pizza to politics occurred in the early 1990s. In 1992, he was appointed to the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City, Mo. Two years later, he was head of the National Restaurant Association, a position he held for five years.
He is, however, by no means a newcomer to the political arena, having worked on a number of presidential campaigns, including as a senior economic adviser to Dole and Kemp in 1996.
A National Baptist with two children, he caused quite a stir with his comments about Muslims. He said he was uncomfortable when he discovered the surgeon working on his liver and colon cancer was a Muslim.
“Based on the little knowledge that I have of the Muslim religion…they have an objective to convert all infidels or kill them,” he told the press.
Later he made some disparaging remarks about Islamic Shariah Law, saying, “It does not belong in our government.”
Whether these opinions will hamper his chances remain to be seen for a man who has gone steadily from pizza to politics to popularity. Now let’s see if Cain is able to capture that other “P”-president.