Tales from the Trail

Cain takes the lead in GOP race – poll

Businessman Herman Cain has pulled ahead of Mitt Romney and now leads the field of 2012 Republican candidates, according to a new New York Times/ CBS News poll.

Cain has 25 percent support among Republican primary voters,  compared with 21 percent support for the former Massachusetts governor.

The two candidates were tied at 17 percent in the previous NYT/CBS poll released on Oct. 3.

The new poll shows  Cain’s support among Tea Party conservatives climbed to 32 percent in mid-October — up  from 18 percent just a few weeks earlier.

Cain’s rise to the top of the polls  is powered by a non-traditional campaign (here’s the “smoking” Cain ad everyone’s talking about). But  he’s going to have to do more than that to do well in the early nominating contests in January, Reuters’ Patricia Zengerle reports.

“Birther” talk bubbles up again

The “birther” question rises again in a wide-ranging interview with Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry in  “Parade.”

The Texas governor dismissed the questioning of whether President Barack Obama is a native-born U.S. citizen as a “distractive issue” — after responding to several questions about the issue.

Asked whether he believes Obama was born in the USA, Perry said he had no reason to think otherwise. But the governor suggested he was not certain about the birth certificate released by Obama.

Romney, Perry heat up stage at Las Vegas debate

In an earlier Republican presidential debate, Mitt Romney delivered a composed, “nice try” when he and Rick Perry locked horns over their respective records.

But at the debate in Las Vegas Tuesday night, a fight for domination between the two 2012 Republican presidential hopefuls came through strong verbal punches.

In one  prolonged verbal battle over illegal immigration, it seemed as if Perry was back in fighting form after poor performances in the early debates.

Cain in the spotlight

The spotlight burns a lot brighter when you’re the one leading the field (or tied for the lead).

Just ask Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain.

The former Godfather’s Pizza CEO has been under increasing scrutiny since his rise to the top of the polls.

Analysts and pundits have been analyzing his “9-9-9″ tax plan and he’s gotten the “Saturday Night Live” treatment.

Cain’s ’9-9-9′ plan in focus at Republican debate

The buzz word was definitely “9-9-9″ in Tuesday’s Republican debate at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire that focused on economic issues.

During the debate, the catchphrase 9-9-9 was mentioned 25 times (including 16 times by the man who conceived it — Herman Cain).

“I think it’s a catchy phrase. In fact, I thought it was the price of a pizza when I first heard about it,” said Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor and former ambassador to China.

Perry video batters Romney with healthcare

In his latest campaign video, Texas Governor Rick Perry takes direct aim at Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney over healthcare.

The video casts the former Massachusetts governor as a mirror image of President Barack Obama when it comes to the federal healthcare overhaul, which conservatives deride as “Obamacare.”

Obamacare morphs into “Romneycare” in the video, which links the Republican frontrunner to the Democratic president’s plan.

Some ‘Occupy DC’ protestors not happy with Obama either

By Lily Kuo

Protestors in the Washington arm of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement have another message for the 1 percent: Listen up, President Obama.

Several Republican presidential candidates have criticized the movement as anti-American, divisive, and “in search of scapegoats.” But many members of what has become known as Occupy DC are not warming up to the Democratic president either, a fact that could frustrate what analysts say are Obama’s hopes to co-opt a burgeoning movement representing average Americans.

“[Obama and Biden] may be making a bet that this thing will get real traction among the middle class and young people, who have largely checked out of politics,” said Paul Light, a political science professor at New York University.

Another reason baseball is America’s game?

A speaker at the influential Values Voters Summit had a theory about why there has not been a major attack on U.S. soil by Islamic extremists since Sept. 11, 2001. And it isn’t just the hard work of U.S. intelligence agencies or the efforts of the thousands of U.S. forces who have risked their lives for 10 years.

According to Bryan Fischer, a director of the evangelical Christian American Families Association,  baseball can take at least some of the credit.

Fischer told an audience at the meeting that he believes there has not been another such major attack on the United States for a decade because Major League Baseball started singing “God Bless America” during the seventh-inning stretch break during games instead of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” after 9/11.

Palin’s 2012 plan: help others defeat Obama

“I apologize to those whom are disappointed in this decision…  But I believe that they, when they take a step back, will understand why the decision was made and understand that really you don’t need a title to make a difference in this country,”  Sarah Palin said on Fox New after closing the door to a 2012 presidential campaign.

The former Alaska governor, and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, ended months and months of speculation on Wednesday by announcing her decision not to throw her hat into the ring.

While she isn’t hitting the trail as a White House candidate, Palin clearly intends to remain a player on the political stage.

Hey, wavering Republicans – file by Halloween, or turn into a pumpkin

A January 31 Florida primary would offer a big treat for anyone tired of the ‘will she/won’t he’ speculation about possible new entries to the Republican presidential field — a hard deadline, on Halloween.

Florida officials say the state is expected to move up its primary to the January date, which means that candidates have until Oct. 31 — Halloween — to file paperwork to get their names on the ballot in the vote-rich state.

Florida is the fourth-most populous state, with more than 18 million people, and it is by far the largest of the “swing states” not strongly aligned with either political party, where U.S. elections are typically decided.