Herman Cain says he can fix the economy just like he fixed Godfather's pizza, but his record as a manager of his own campaign is grim. Cain appears to treat his staff more like the way the head mean girl treats her beta girls: aides who ride in the car with him were instructed, via memo, "Do not speak to him unless you are spoken to," The New York Times' Susan Saulny reports. One staffer quit not long after the email, but he won't go on the record, because some Cain aides were forced to sign non-disclosure agreements and others were warned not to talk to the press. But they described their frustrations with the campaign's disorganization to Saulny, with one complaining, "It was like they were running for sophomore class president."
Staffers couldn't get what they needed, Saulny reports. No signs. No bumper stickers. No campaign email addresses. Promises of offices and phone lines were broken. A dinner for big donors was missed because Cain forgot about it. No conference calls or meetings. "When I found out about the book in June, I thought, 'Are you kidding?'" a staffer said.
Politico's Alexander Burns notes that "it sometimes seems like Cain's campaign is acting out a corporate fantasy life." Cain gave his staffers titles like "chief operating officer" instead of campaign manager. His spokesman -- who is also his top foreign policy adviser -- J.D. Gordon, gets the title of "vice president of communications." Cain writes about the corporate culture of his campaign in his book, noting that he's his campaign's CEO. Even baby staffers get nice titles: "Nathan Naidu, an eager, efficient, and well-informed twenty-five-year-old graduate of the University of Alabama who majored in political science, is assistant to the COO."
Cain has presented his business experience as his main credential in the presidential race. But it's unclear what lessons from the corporate world Cain is bringing to politics. NPR's Kathy Lohr says of Cain's style, "He is a risk-taker -- even fearless at times. That's clear from a 1991 performance that recently surfaced of Cain, dressed in a white gospel robe, hamming it up to his version of John Lennon's 'Imagine.'" But that kind of fearlessness seems like it's fun at office parties but unlikely to shrink the federal budget deficit or win the Iowa caucuses. Cain brags that he increased sales by 20 percent at Burger King, but once he was made regional vice president, "a conspiracy to get me fired was hatched in the company's corporate headquarters." Cain doesn't explain why the conspiracy was hatched, but perhaps his former staffers have offered a clue.