The Ad Campaign That Could Save Herman Cain

Judith Grey on the ad campaign that could salvage the one-time GOP frontrunner’s candidacy.

11.30.11 5:45 PM ET

Some would say that at this point, it is inevitable that Herman Cain will decide to withdraw from the presidential campaign. The more marketing-savvy observer, however, would say it’s a tad hasty—he doesn’t need to reassess his candidacy, he just needs to rebrand it. After all, companies have come back from much worse: E. coli in baby formula, malfunctioning pacemakers, and the J. Crew collection before Jenna Lyons took over. By comparison, Cain’s issues—serial philandering and being foreign-policy challenged—are relatively benign. With a positive attitude and a thoughtful advertising campaign, it’s quite conceivable that Cain’s political lemon could be turned into his own unique brand of lemonade.

Take, for example, his most recent crisis: a single mother comes forward claiming she’s had a 13-year affair with the candidate. Yes, that would be adultery (Cain has denied the allegation). But, it’s adultery in the most humane way possible. Think about it: having an affair with the same woman for 13 years demonstrates a deep sense of loyalty and consistency, a quality much lacking by some of his Republican opponents. It’s the anti-flip-flop if you like. What’s more, if someone’s been involved with you for 13-odd years, they must really like you. (And don’t underestimate the importance of the “likability factor.” It can just about compensate for any degree of ineptitude when running for office. That was Dubya’s strategery, and it worked.)

It’s also been confirmed that Cain’s accusers have benefited from his financial generosity. Given that they were all nonelites, struggling to find employment, nearing bankruptcy, or even being evicted from their homes, it could be argued that Cain is the only Republican candidate who’s actually responding to the plight of the 99 percent. Occupy Wall Streeters might even go as far as saying that he’s doing more than anyone in Washington right now.

And as for his lack of foreign policy experience, maybe it’s time for an American president to be more isolationist. With unemployment on the rise and the national debt at a record high, perhaps being a candidate that’s completely clueless about foreign affairs is a total plus. From now on, Cain should refuse to answer questions on foreign policy and emphasize that his focus on domestic issues is completely intentional.

So, in the aggregate, Cain isn’t in as bad a place as we originally thought. He has a legitimate strategic platform that his track record supports: He’s a loyal, lovable, generous 99 percent empathizer who doesn’t give a flying f--k about foreign policy in a time when we should probably be focusing on domestic issues anyhow. It’s a no-brainer. The ad should practically write itself.

So here it goes:

Mournful music that gradually becomes more hopeful plays throughout the commercial.

Open on Ginger White looking out a window on an overcast day.

Female Voice-Over (compassionate yet searing): She was an unemployed single mother of two, struggling to make ends meet. She had filed for bankruptcy. Had been evicted from her home. She felt no one was there. Then she met …

Cut to Herman Cain announcing his candidacy.

Herman Cain: I’m Herman Cain and I’m running for president of the United States.

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The crowd applauds.

Cut to Ginger White speaking to camera.

Ginger White: He’s very much the same man you see on the campaign trail. Very much confident. Very much sure of himself.

Female Voice-Over: She needed someone who believed in her. In her power as an individual.

Cut to a shot of Cain’s book CEO of Self.

Ginger White: I was aware that he was married. He made it very intriguing. It was something that took me away from my humdrum life at the time.

Female Voice-Over: She loved him for 13 years. (Dramatic pause.) And he loved her back.

Cut to Herman Cain speaking earnestly in an interview: I have been attempting to help her financially because she was out of work and destitute, desperate.

Ginger White: It makes me out to be one of the millions of people right now that are trying to keep over his head.

Artist rendering of Herman Cain ad campaign.

Female Voice-Over: If you are one of the many millions of Americans struggling right now, Herman Cain is listening. He’s not preoccupied with problems abroad. He wants to fight for you here at home. He wants to lower unemployment, keep people in their homes and keep hope in their hearts.

Cut to Herman Cain smiling with campaign logo.

Slogan fades up: Believe in love.