AP Reporter: Herman Cain Needs Voters to 'Look Past His Skin Color And Perceive Him as a Serious Candidate'

July 2nd, 2011 12:41 PM

AP reporter Errin Haines couldn't possibly think that being black makes you an un-serious presidential candidate. She's black. But that was the mysterious echo in her (mostly positive) story on GOP contender Herman Cain. Perhaps she meant that a black Republican can't possibly be anything more than a token or a gimmick? Her third paragraph:

Already losing some of his cachet to tea party favorite Michele Bachmann, Cain, the lone African-American GOP candidate, is trying to win over a party that hasn't had a black nominee. Sidestepping race as an issue in his campaign may have helped him gain momentum in recent weeks, but whether he can turn vigor into votes will depend largely on voters' ability to look past his skin color and perceive him as a serious candidate.

This is probably not what AP wrote when former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun ran a very long-shot campaign for president on the Democrat side eight years ago.

Haines found experts who correctly said Cain's appeal isn't so much to race as to a stubborn, successful American overcoming race and other obstacles to become a major success in business. Near the end, Haines talked of racial remarks that have "raised eyebrows." It wasn't anything near the Jeremiah Wright kind of gaffes, but she had her eyebrows raised:

Cain's candidacy has not been without gaffes, and he has made a few racially tinged remarks that have raised eyebrows. Last month, Cain was quoted as saying that blacks "can't afford to" join him at tea party rallies and other conservative events. In campaign footage, he is seen with tea partyers across the country, warning, "To all of those who say that the tea party is a racist organization ... eat your words!"

Last month, after referring to himself as "the dark horse candidate," Cain invoked the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. when he began his speech to the Republican Leadership Conference with the words, "I have a dream" of GOP victories in the House and Senate in 2012 and said he would be the next president of the United States.

At times, Cain seems to enjoy flirting with race. He is fond of saying that he "left the Democratic plantation years ago." At a recent campaign event in Atlanta, he told the crowd that when asked by a reporter what distinguished him from his fellow GOP candidates, he answered: "One of the biggest differences is the color of my ... eyes." At the same meeting, during a lull in the questioning, Cain sang the spiritual "Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now" in a velvet baritone.

The mostly white audience ate it up.

How do any of these qualify as "gaffes"? Saying you would never allow a Muslim in your cabinet, that's a gaffe. Haines doesn't understand that Cain has appeal in part because GOP voters and Tea Party activists are very eager to prove they're not the racists that the NAACP and liberal journalists insist they are.