Posted Monday, Oct. 31, 2011, at 9:24 AM
The American Enterprise Institute is situated just across the street from the National Restaurant Association. In any other circumstance, Herman Cain could have showed up early for his big policy forum today, hobnobbed with some old friends, and strolled over. Politico's scoop made sure that this would not be a normal day for Cain. When he finally showed up at 9 a.m., for a speech that was scheduled to start at that moment, a troop of reporters chased his SUV down into the parking garage connected to the building. A security guard followed, shouting "reporters!" in a vain attempt to move people around.
You can't hear it here, but his comment was: "Good morning."
AEI's conference room is a good place to give a speech if you want to limit the crowd size. It's small, with space taken up at back by a table of coffee and hot water, and seats packed together for maximum immobility. Reporters who hadn't RSVP'd days ago -- i.e, the people chasing the new harassment story -- were turned away and directed to the live video feed of the speech. Reporters in the room saw a late-arriving Cain enter the room, grab a chair across from moderate Kevin Hassett, and take questions all about 9-9-9, as if that was still the story of the day. He reminisced about Jack Kemp. He talked about why the critics were wrong to compare the sales tax part of the plan to a VAT.
"There are no other nines," he said, defending the plan. "We don't have any hidden nines."
Just this speech, then a speech at the National Press Club. And TV interviews. Easy.