This Week in 2012

HOWARD MEGDAL: Herman Cain’s presidential nomination chances aren’t dead yet. I know, I’m as surprised as you are.

But take a closer look at what has ended the other bubbles, and it doesn’t become so strange after all.

Consider Rick Perry. When did he fall from first to an afterthought in both the national polls and, more vitally, polls in the early states? No, not when the media concluded that his debate performances were awful. No, not even after the drunk speech- he’d fallen weeks before that. It was when he went against far-right orthodoxy on the question of providing in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants. And the mandatory vaccine attack didn’t help much, either.

So keeping that in mind, look at Herman Cain’s recent problems through the far-right lens. Were his sexual harassment indiscretions really a campaign-killer, given the people supporting him? For one thing, it allows him to utilize a Palin special and blame the media. For another, there’s a large segment on the far right that doesn’t believe sexual harassment is a thing, let alone a disqualifier for the presidency.

His “gaffe” last night, calling Nancy Pelosi “Princess Nancy”, is the same thing, only more so. I’m supposed to believe that the far right GOP support for Herman Cain will recoil because he said something insulting about Nancy Pelosi?

No question, there are some voters that will be turned off by Cain’s seeming inability to avoid sexually harassing women in quantities that would make Costco blush. But all Cain needs to do in this race is stay competitive with Mitt Romney, and Romney is holding steady at his mid-20s ceiling. I’m not convinced that Herman Cain has alienated enough of the non-Romney voters to make that impossible yet. And Rick Perry, who already alienated most of them with his stances on the issues above, has the money to stay in the race and attack Romney while making Cain look virtually statesmanlike.

This ain’t over. Incredibly.

CHRIS PUMMER: If the right wing of the Republican party is still casting for an alternative to Mitt Romney — and I’m not so sure it is more than halfheartedly at this point — Rick Perry is still the only real alternative.

That’s because despite all the unforced errors, and the silly gaffes that make George W. Bush look like a smooth-talking statesman, he is still a credible candidate in a way that Herman Cain simply isn’t.

Cain’s failings, his gaffes, and the skeletons tucked in his closet, may be rallying some on the right to his defense. Maybe many of them believe these really are concoctions of a left-wing media, or false accusations manufactured by the Democratic Machine (Cain’s suggestion, not mine).

At the end of the day, most will recognize that they can believe whatever they want, but this baggage is still bound to weigh Cain down in a general election, which is why he won’t be the standard bearer for the Republican Party.

Not that Perry hasn’t show he also has enough of his own baggage. But he is still the far more viable candidate for any anti-Romney insurgency to coalesce around.

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