- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Republican presidential contender Herman Cain said Wednesday the expected candidacy of Texas Gov. Rick Perry will have no impact on his own bid for the Republican nomination.

“It’s not going to do anything to me, but I think that it might do something to some of the other candidates,” Mr. Cain said during a wide-ranging interview on The Washington Times-affiliated “America’s Morning News” radio program.

“My campaign has been a grass-roots, bottom-up campaign, not a top-down, media-driven campaign,” the Atlanta businessman said. “I am not concerned about a Rick Perry getting into this race.”

Mr. Cain, who is crisscrossing Iowa this week ahead of Thursday’s debate and Saturday’s GOP straw poll, has been polling nationally in the middle of the crowded Republican field — running well behind front-runners Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann, but ahead of such better-known figures as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Mr. Cain said he expects to do well this weekend in Iowa. but he said he is in the race for the long haul no matter what happens Saturday.

“Regardless of whether I finish first, second, third, fourth, fifth or sixth, that’s not going to influence going forward in this campaign,” he said.

Citing poll data that shows his campaign still has enormous upside potential, he said, “We have every reason to go forward regardless of what happens at the straw poll.”

Mr. Cain, who has been a tea party favorite since emerging onto the national Republican scene earlier this year, dismissed recent criticism from leading Democrats that the grass-roots political movement is to blame for the country’s current fiscal mess.

“That is absolutely ridiculous,” he said. “The American people want fiscal responsibility, they want the government to get out of the way of the free market system, and they want our constitutional liberties to be enforced. This is all that they are looking for — so what could be wrong with that?

“The left has go so far left that they consider the middle [to be] the right extreme,” he said.

He said the people he’s meeting on the campaign trail in Iowa are still supportive of tea party principles.

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