Mark Block is now presidential candidate Herman Cains campaign manager and chief strategist. He previously worked for the Wisconsin branch of Americans for Prosperity.
According to the Real Clear Politics average, Cain’s support stood at 18 percent in Iowa, 15 percent in New Hampshire and 8.7 percent in South Carolina. Those ratings are good enough for a second-place standing in Iowa and New Hampshire and third place in South Carolina.
Block said the campaign has operatives on the ground in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida, as well as Georgia, where the campaign is based. He said the campaign would be staffing up “rapidly” in additional states, especially given the accelerated primary calendar.
But even as Block declined to dismiss the importance of the early states — he put particular emphasis on Florida — he differed from seasoned GOP presidential campaign operatives as he argued that Cain’s strategy for victory was built around a new paradigm that called for harnessing the energy of tea party and other conservative activists around the country. Arizona and Michigan are two states that Block mentioned as significant to a Cain victory.
“When Mr. Cain says that we’re running a campaign that’s out of the box, you know, it’s different, it has as much to do with what’s happened in America the last two years, with the explosion of the tea party movement — the citizens’ movement — than it does, typical, this is the way you run a presidential campaign,” Block said.
“Cain’s support is not an inch thick. It’s deep,” he continued, adding that the campaign has been focused on building a grass-roots infrastructure in all 50 states. Block referenced Cain’s recent straw poll victories as evidence of his candidate’s support, saying they matter more than other such poll wins by Cain’s competitors because “we haven’t bought them.”
Block assembled Cain’s staff mostly from his relationships during the five years he worked for the Wisconsin branch of the conservative activist organization Americans for Prosperity. Block and Cain got to know each other a few years ago during the hours they spent driving together while jointly engaged in a project to expand AFP into Michigan and Ohio.
Cain, most recently a motivational speaker and talk-radio host, has structured his campaign like a corporation, complete with traditional corporate job titles, reminiscent of his years at Coca- Cola and Pillsbury and in running the Godfather’s Pizza chain. Cain also has served as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and president of the National Restaurant Association.
Cain’s title is CEO, with Block serving as chief operating officer and chief of staff. Linda Hansen, the campaign’s executive vice president and deputy chief of staff, has been responsible for “development,” the Cain campaign’s term for fundraising. Hansen’s biography does not show any traditional campaign experience. Jamie Brazil, vice president of national field and political operations, served on Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) 2008 presidential campaign. Brazil is a longtime friend of Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.