Cain Train

This past weekend, former presidential candidate Herman Cain was in East Tennessee for a political event supporting Newt Gingrich. While here, Mr. Cain wanted to get together and talk a little about local politics and pick up a few pointers. Of course, I was glad to obliged. You all know that's not true.

The truth of the matter is, I was graciously invited to a political event by my friend Jimmy Matlock. The event was a campaign stop in Knoxville by Herman Cain in support of Newt Gingrich. Mr. Cain was the keynote speaker at the event sponsored by Tennessee Conservative Union's annual Reagan Day dinner at the Crowne Plaza hotel.

I've seen him on TV a lot but I had never heard him speak in person. I can see now one reason he has been so successful. He is a dynamic, powerful speaker.

Also at the event was Jackie Gingrich Cushman, Newt Gingrich's daughter. Like Cain, I had seen her on TV too. I was fortunate to get to meet her and actually talk to her for a pretty good while. She's a very pleasant person.

Like any political event, there were a lot of people in attendance including supporters of all the other presidential candidates.

If you ever have a chance to hear Mr. Cain speak, it's well worth it.

Jackie Gingrich Cushman & Me

Cain pushing for Gingrich in Knoxville

Georgiana Vines

Former presidential aspirant Herman Cain said he's still on a mission to defeat President Barack Obama and urged conservatives on Saturday to support former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich in Tennessee's Republican presidential primary on Tuesday.

For those who still wish the Georgia businessman was in the race, he said to vote for his fellow Georgian instead.

"Don't protest on Tuesday," he said.

Cain was the main speaker at the Tennessee Conservative Union's annual Reagan Day dinner at the Crowne Plaza hotel and made his comments during a reception for table sponsors before the event. The news media was allowed in and able to ask questions as well as mingle with the group.

Cain said Gingrich will "do better" than people in Tennessee think, although he was careful to say he was not predicting Gingrich would win the state.

Asked how he would do in nine other states that are part of the Super Tuesday contests, Cain said assuredly: "He will win Georgia. I've done a lot of work in Georgia."

He said he believes Gingrich will do well in other states, too.

"As Yogi Berra said, 'It's not over till it's over,' " Cain said, referring to the famous baseball player's quote.

Cain was asked to comment on state Sen. Stacey Campfield's announcement on Saturday that he was resigning as co-chairman of the Gingrich campaign in Tennessee and throwing his support to Rick Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania.

"People change," Cain said.

Cain, who dropped out of the race after accusations emerged that he sexually harassed multiple women, also was asked why people still believe in his cause.

"I have something to say," he replied, and then launched into a theme that it's important to get the nation back on track from where it's heading economically.

"People love 9-9-9," he said, referring to his plan to replace the complex federal tax code with a three-part system. He was literally to receive an ax from the Tennessee Conservative Union at the dinner for his position on taxes, said Lloyd Daugherty, TCU chairman.

Lots of Republicans were at the event and were table sponsors. Ray H. Jenkins, chairman of the Knox County Republican Party, was in attendance and commented, "I'm glad to see so many good conservative Republicans." Republican officeholders and candidates also attended.

Cain arrived in a bus promoting Cain's Solutions Revolution. He got out putting on his famous black cowboy hat. Then he started greeting hotel guests standing outside with, "How's everybody?"

There also was a Gingrich bus touting Newt2012. Gingrich signs were along the midway on Summit Hill Drive, and eventually Santorum supporters, including Anderson County Commissioner Zach Bates of Lake City, also put out signs for their candidate and waved them at hotel guests and cars.

Among those at the dinner were Gingrich's daughter Jackie Cushman; his half-brother, Randy McPherson of Harrisburg, Pa.; and former U.S. Sen. Bob Smith of New Hampshire.

Smith said he had been traveling in Tennessee as a Gingrich surrogate.

"I have served with Newt in the House and Santorum in the Senate, and I'm for Newt," he said. "We need someone who is firm and in control. I've seen Rick walk away from some issues. We need strong leadership."

Gingrich won a Southern Conservative Caucus vote taken at the event. He had 82 votes to 73 for Santorum, 24 for Ron Paul and 23 for Mitt Romney. Fourteen in attendance were undecided.