Friday, June 17, 2011

Republican Leadership Conference 2011: Rep. Steve Scalise and Herman Cain

Posted By on Fri, Jun 17, 2011 at 2:02 PM

Rep. Steve Scalise addresses the Republican Leadership Conference June 17.
  • Rep. Steve Scalise addresses the Republican Leadership Conference June 17.
The crowd at the Republican National Conference may not have been as familiar with Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Metairie as we are in south Louisiana, but he surely had won some converts by the end of his speech, which took President Barack Obama's administration to the woodshed over a variety of issues, most notably its energy policy. But the day's biggest ovation so far was given to Herman Cain, the former Godfather's Pizza CEO who amused and amazed the crowd at last year's conference when he described himself as a "dark horse" presidential candidate (Cain is black).

Cain got the audience going with his opening statement: "I have a dream — I have two dreams. In 2012, conservative Republicans are going to take back the House and the Senate." Big applause. "And I got another dream for 2012, and that dream is you are looking at the next president of the United States of America." He also told the familiar story of the bumblebee that shouldn't physically be able to fly — "But the bumblebee didn't get the memo!"

He tsk-tsked media figures who are pooh-poohing his chances. "Bill O'Reilly, who I respect, said Herman Cain doesn't have a chance," he said. "Mr. Karl Rove, who had done a great job for President Bush, doesn't take my candidacy seriously. And one of the best political commentators on TV disappointed me — Mr. Charles Krauthammer — when he didn't take my candidacy seriously. Well: I didn't get the memo that I wasn't supposed to run!"

The first major note of discord at the RLC came when Cain, addressing foreign policy, thundered, "If you mess with Israel, you mess with the United States of America!" Most in the crowd cheered, but a significant minority in the back — some with Ron Paul signs — booed lustily. The boos stirred murmurs in the larger crowd, and then they cheered louder in an attempt to drown out the isolationists or anti-Israelites.

Still, it was Cain's humor that the crowd responded to most. "When we put the right person in the White House — moi — there will be no question about American exceptionalism!

"We're near the French Quarter, aren't we?" he teased. "You catch that 'moi'?"

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