Herman Cain is surging past Rick Perry in the race to become the Republican presidential nominee, and he's getting close to front runner Mitt Romney in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, according to two new national polls.
Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, leads in both polls, but only by a slim margin. Cain, meanwhile, is coming on strong after winning the Florida straw poll last month -- leapfrogging Texas governor Rick Perry in a new Gallup poll and in a new Washington Post/Bloomberg News poll for second place.
Cain was a laggard in the GOP presidential nominee race until his victory in the Florida straw poll, when he gave a resounding speech to delegates, urging them not to believe hype that he couldn't win. Yet though Cain is surging toward the top of polls, many Americans still don't know much about him.
But as we approach Tuesday night's Bloomberg News-Washington Post Republican presidential debate at Dartmouth College that will focus on the economy, here are some important things to know about Cain:
1) Cain quotes Pokemon. At the end of a Republican presidential debate in August, when delivering his final comments, Cain told the crowd, A poet once said, 'life can be a challenge, life can seem impossible, but it's never easy when there's so much on the line.'
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The line isn't from a well-known poet. No, that line is from Donna Summer's song The Power of One -- the theme song for the film Pokemon: The Movie 2000. A little research reveals that Cain has quoted the theme song from Pokemon more than once in speeches during his presidential race run.
2) Cain is known to refer to himself as The Hermanator. He also previously used the handle Cornbread' and says that'll be his secret service code name if he's elected president.
3) Cain says 50 percent of Americans don't know what is going on. In his new book, This is Herman Cain! My Journey to the White House, he says 50 percent of the American public are clueless as to what's going on. And that simply means that the rest of us have to work harder to get smarter people to the polls to basically outvote those that are clueless.
4) Cain wants to reform the U.S. tax code system with his patented 9-9-9 plan. The plan would create the same income tax rate for corporations and individuals, as well as set a new national sales tax at nine percent.
5) Cain lives in the Atlanta suburbs, where he serves as an associate minister at Antioch Baptist Church North. He frequently invokes God when speaking publicly. Cain and his wife, Gloria, have two children and three grandchildren.
6) Cain is former deputy chairman (1992-94) and chairman (1995-96) of the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. He left the post because he wanted to get involved in politics.
7) Cain has never held elected office, but he ran, briefly, for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000. He said he ran at that time to make needed political statements rather than win. George W. Bush was the chosen one, he had the campaign DNA that followers look for. After ending his short campaign, Cain endorsed Steve Forbes in the race. Cain also ran for the Senate in Georgia in 2004, but he lost in the primary.
8) Cain doesn't think he's politically correct. He isn't afraid to speak out, on just about any topic. Cain seems to understand that can lead to non-politically correct statements. He recently said, for example, that blacks have essentially been tricked into thinking they must always vote Democrat.
9) Cain was born in Memphis. His father, who was raised on a farm and worked as a chauffeur, barber and janitor, eventually became a driver for the Coca-Cola CEO when the family lived in Atlanta. His mother was a maid.
Cain has said that as he was growing up, his family was poor but happy.
My father never looked for a government program, a government handout. I never heard my father complain about somebody owing him anything. All I ever saw was how hard my father worked to get what he wanted out of life, Cain once said in a Parade Magazine interview.
10) Cain grew up in the Atlanta area and graduated from the prestigious Morehouse College in 1967 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics. Cain married his wife Gloria, of Atlanta, soon after her graduation from Morris Brown College in 1968. They remain married.
11) Cain went to graduate school at Purdue, receiving a Masters in computer science in 1971.
12) Cain worked as a mathematician in ballistics as a civilian employee of the U.S. Navy. After he left the Navy and graduated from Purdue, Cain went to work for Coca-Cola in Atlanta as a computer systems analyst.
13) Cain left Coca-Cola for Pillsbury, moving to Minneapolis. In 1978, Cain became director of analysis for Pillsbury's restaurant and foods group.
14) Cain managed 400 stores for Burger King (owned by Pillsbury at the time) in the Philadelphia region. In three years, the region went from being the least profitable for Burger King to the most profitable. He even attended Burger King University for 10 days of training.
15) Cain's success at Burger King landed him the position of president and CEO of Godfather's Pizza in 1986. When Cain arrived on the job, he reportedly told employees: I'm Herman Cain and this ain't no April Fool's joke. We are not dead. Our objective is to prove to Pillsbury and everyone else that we will survive.
Godfather's was losing money, but Cain slashed costs, closed stores and made Godfather's profitable. Cain was part of a buyout of Godfather's from Pillsbury, and he remained chief executive until he resigned in 1996, about the same time he left the Federal Reserve Board in Kansas City.
16) Cain hosted a talk radio program, The Herman Cain Show, in Atlanta until February 2011. The show was on Atlanta's News Talk 750 WSB.
17) Cain is a survivor of four-stage cancer. He's also a numbers man, and a man who appreciates symbolism. His favorite number is 45, the year in which he was born. Cain also says God was watching over him in 2006 when he had nearly a third of his colon and part of his liver removed during cancer surgery. Totally cancer-free now, Cain says the J symbol left by the surgeon was a sign that Jesus was watching over him.
18) Cain arrived on the national political scene by publicly opposing the 1993/1994 health care plan of President Bill Clinton. He was president-elect of the National Restaurant Association at the time, and he challenged Bill Clinton on the costs of the employer mandate contained within the bill, sharply criticizing its effect on small businesses.
19) Cain appreciates traditional Southern fare. He knows the meal he wants on his deathbed. It's a fork-tender roast, collard greens, green beans, candied yams, hand-shucked corn, and homemade cornbread, he writes in This is Herman Cain!
20) Cain doesn't believe unions always act in the best interests of the nation. The desire of unions to make unsustainable demands on local, state, and federal government, irrespective of the devastating impact, is totally illogical, not to mention showing a collective disregard for the taxpayer, Cain said in his book.