Caffeinated Thoughts has learned that Herman Cain lost yet another Iowa staffer. Charlie Gruschow, former leader of the Des Moines Tea Party, resigned from the campaign on Sunday “to pursue other interests.” Gruschow had been an early supporter and activist for Cain having been with him since last year even though he was only on the payroll since May. This is the third Iowa staffer that Cain has lost over the holiday weekend. Tina Goff, Cain’s Iowa State Director, and Kevin Hall, his Ames Straw Poll Coordinator, resigned amidst frustration that Cain is not making a serious effort in Iowa.
Their complaints seem valid. Between May 1st through July 2nd Cain has participated in only four town hall events. He also gave a couple of quick appearances (like the Strong American Now Conference) in Iowa. Yesterday he made two stops in Iowa – Winterset and Indianola, and now he’s on the east coast. He just has not done serious campaigning in Iowa.
His campaign seems to be employing a nationwide strategy that doesn’t make sense in a primary race. For instance I have learned from Fayette County Republican Chair, Jim Kirkpatrick, that Cain’s campaign canceled his appearance at the Fayette County Republicans Summer Picnic on August 6th, one week before the straw poll. In its place they have an event in Turner, OR scheduled. Oregon? The nominee could very well be decided before Oregon votes. In fact, if you look at his public calendar as of right now he doesn’t have a single public event in Iowa scheduled before the straw poll (though I’m sure he’ll be at the Fox News/Iowa GOP debate a couple of days before). In July he is doing events in Alabama and Ohio though. Yesterday he was in Pennsylvania with one stop in New Hampshire, and the rest of the week he’s in Las Vegas. Yet he can’t seem to string together several days to campaign in Iowa. One source close to the campaign has told me that his campaign is a “dysfunctional organization at every level.”
The hit piece in POLITICO by Kendra Marr and Juana Summers yesterday provided false information, and was also focused on the wrong problems.
The move, which shakes the campaign of the tea party favorite into turmoil in a state where he’s staking much of his 2012 hopes, comes after weeks of swirling rumors between Cain’s staff and volunteers in the Hawkeye State accusing each other of affairs, homosexuality and professional misconduct.
“A lot of volunteers, who worked hard for five months, are all leaving the campaign,” said one Iowa volunteer.
Other signs of strain within the campaign are more visible….
…Charlie Gruschow, one of Cain’s remaining Iowa staffers, was shocked by the resignations, but that he didn’t think it would make a dent in Cain’s Iowa support.
“I feel optimistic that Herman will have a good showing in the straw poll,” Gruschow said. “Although it comes as a surprise to me that Tina and Kevin resigned, I do not believe this is a campaign-killer for Herman in Iowa.”
Gruschow then resigned the next day. It doesn’t seem like he is optimistic about Cain’s campaign after all. I contacted Tina Goff to get her reaction on the POLITICO piece, and she was unwilling to comment.
I later learned the rumors that POLITICO mentions in the article (some I have heard before) were rumors about the national campaign staff, not the Iowa staff. These unconfirmed rumors should not have made it into the piece altogether, let alone insinuate these were related to the Iowa campaign staff.
One rumor has been confirmed however… the rumor about a staffer engaging in homosexual conduct is true. This refers to Scott Toomey who is openly gay and before working for the campaign was the treasurer for a gay pride organization in Wisconsin (he was removed as treasurer prior to an investigation of the organizations finances). Stacy McCain reports that he is a former employee, but he is still listed as an advisor with POLITICO. This sheds some light on Cain’s remarks in Pella about being willing to hire a homosexual, because he has already done so. Whether you think it is fair or not, that hire has harmed him more than helped. Telling supporters he no longer works for the campaign, but still having him on the payroll as a consultant doesn’t make the issue go away either.
On top of this new news, there is the problem of Cain doing interviews like this. He simply has not been able to explain positions beyond clichés and talking points. His issues page on his website doesn’t even cover his positions on life, marriage, civil unions and the 2nd Amendment. He certainly hasn’t been talking about them during speeches. He hasn’t given satisfying answers during interviews. These are important issues for this state.
Looking at his loss of Iowa staff (he said they already have been replaced… waiting for those names to be announced soon then, like today), his current schedule, and how his campaign has been conducted thus far; I don’t see how he does well in the Ames Straw Poll. If he bombs there how his campaign will move forward is beyond me. Fundraising will dry up, and his campaign has announced that he raised $2.5 million, which is far less than Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman. They also boast that they have no debt which they say is a “testament to his business principles.” It will be interesting to see with the FEC filings on July 15th how much cash on hand they actually have. Along with having zero debt – there is zero mention of that.
Photo by Dave Davidson