Herman Cain forms exploratory committee

Herman Cain officially kicks off 2012 presidential race
Holly Bailey
January 12, 2011
Yahoo! News

Just under 22 months before Election Day, we have our first semi-official entrant in the 2012 presidential race.

Republican Herman Cain announced Wednesday that he’s setting up an exploratory committee to raise cash for a potential bid for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.

Wait, Herman who?

A former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza and executive at Pillsbury, Cain is a conservative radio host in Atlanta who has been a popular figure on the GOP speaking circuit over the last year. Cain, who is black, is perhaps best known nationally for speaking out last year against charges made by the NAACP that the tea party is made up of “racist elements.”

Last month, Cain topped a 2012 presidential straw poll organized by the conservative blog Red State, beating out the likes of Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee. Still, Cain, who also previously headed the National Restaurant Association, has virtually no name recognition beyond the GOP grass roots and is not even a blip in most early presidential polls — not that he views that as a problem.

In an interview Wednesday with CNN, Cain said he’s been motivated all of his life by people who think he can’t win.

“People who say that Herman Cain has no chance of winning the nomination for the Republican Party or win the presidency — I simply say thank you,” he said. “Because all my life I have been in situations where I wasn’t supposed to become VP of Pillsbury, I wasn’t supposed to be able to turn Godfather’s Pizza around. I wasn’t supposed to succeed in climbing the corporate ladder in corporate America. So to the people who say I don’t have a chance, I say: Thank you. Because that inspires me.”

An exploratory committee is generally the first step a potential candidate takes in seeking the White House. Cain is expected to announce whether he’ll formally seek the nomination later this year.