Chairman Cain gets into it with Anti Fed Paul Supporters
Speechmaking Call and Response at Alabama Straw Poll
By TRIP GABRIEL
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Maybe you’ve heard: there was another obscure straw poll held in America, and a legion of well-organized Ron Paul supporters turned out.
They placed their literature on the seats of the convention center named for a legendary University of Alabama football coach, and they set out the coolest T-shirts and stickers for sale.
The straw poll was organized by the West Alabama Republican Assembly, part of a national grassroots movement that calls itself “the Republican wing of the Republican party.’’ If you guessed there was no table with Mitt Romney buttons, you were correct.
Herman Cain was the sole candidate to address the several hundred activists, during a campaign swing through the state, but it still seemed as if he were daring to stick his hand into the lion’s teeth of the Ron Paul movement. “Our economy is on life support,’’ Mr. Cain said during his standard speech, “and the reason this economy is on life support …’’
“Federal Reserve!’’ a woman shouted. There was a burst of applause and a sea of “Ron Paul” blue signs were waved in the air.
“With all due respect,” Mr. Cain told the Fed-loathing supporters of Mr. Paul, “I’m going to give the speech today.’’
The crowd burst into surprised laughter over his delivery; he stretched out the words and lowered his already deep voice. “Our biggest domestic issue is not the Federal Reserve,” lectured Mr. Cain, a former chairman of the Federal Reserve branch in Kansas City. “It’s this economy that’s on life support.’’
He continued: “Since you brought up the Federal Reserve, I’m going to say this real quick. I do not believe we need to end the Fed but to fix the Fed. That’s all I’m going to say about it.’’
Mr. Paul’s supporters waved their blue signs furiously as scattered boos echoed.
“Are you going to let me give my speech or not?’’ Mr. Cain said. It was the voice of your grandfather telling you to take your elbows off the table and respect your grandmother.
The crowd applauded. Mr. Cain had won them over. “Thank you very much,’’ he said, and began again: “This economy’s on life support …’’
It will be noted that in one obscure straw poll on Saturday, in a Southern state with no traditional role in the choosing of a presidential nominee, Herman Cain won 50.7 percent of the 347 votes cast. Ron Paul came in second with 45 percent.