Herman Cain: "I Am the Koch Brothers' Brother From Another Mother!"

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 4 2011 2:41 PM

Herman Cain: "I Am the Koch Brothers' Brother From Another Mother!"

Herman Cain finished off his week from hell with a speech to the group that helped make him a politician: Americans for Prosperity. He took the stage shortly after Mitt Romney, and the difference between the two mens' receptions was impossible to miss. The ostensible GOP frontrunner, the guy leading on inTrade, got around one third of the audience to stand up for him. Cain entered to sustained, booming applause, everyone jumping off their chairs.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

David Koch was in the front row. Art Pope, another AFP macher and target of stories about his wealth and influence, was sitting in the same section. There was an opportunity here to smack right back at all the reporters writing stories about how Cain was "connected" to Koch. Cain took it. He reminded the crowd about a New York Times story from last night. That piece had tied together Cain, an AFP speaker, and his campaign chief Mark Block, a former AFP organizer in Wisconsin, and Prosperity USA, the shell group that allegedly, illegeally, helped the Cain campaign get started in the start of 2011.

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"The article tries to make a case of how close the Koch brothers and I are," said Cain.

The audience started chuckling.

"I'm proud to know the Koch brothers," said Cain. "I'm very proud to know the Koch brothers. They make it sound like we've had time to go fishing together, hunting together, skiing together, golfing together. But just so I can clarify this for the media?"

Chuckling louder now.

"This may be a breaking news announcement for the media."

Here it comes.

"I am the Koch brothers' brother from another mother!"

The room bursted into applause. Koch stood up, and the titantron cameras found him, guffawing along with the front rows.

"I'm their brother from another mother," repeated Cain. "And proud of it! You see, the reason that I'm running for president, folks, is that I want to unite the United States of America, not divide the United States of America."

The issue, as he'd just defined it, was not about whether an AFP-connected organization had shoveled money around to help him out. It was about class warfare. It was the left hating people who'd succeeded.

As Cain was speaking, Reuters went live with a what-took-so-long story about CREW, the nonpartisan ethics group that finds plenty of opportunities to hit the right, filing a campaign complaint about Prosperity USA. The speech ended. Cain's campaign team exited, with a TV camera shining a light on Mark Block, not getting any comment on the new wrinkle in the story.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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