Weigel

Michael Steele to Herman Cain: Get Off the Book Tour

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 03: Incumbent Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele participates in a debate between chairmanship candidates of the RNC, co-sponsored by Americans for Tax Reform and the Daily Caller, at the National Press Club January 3, 2011 in Washington, DC. The members of the committee will vote on their choices for chairman during their winter meeting later this month. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

I talked to former RNC Chairman Michael Steele earlier today for a piece about 2012, and over the course of some fine riffing about Republicans and African-Americans, he provided some fresh advice to Cain.

“I think Herman has to get off the book tour,” said Steele.

The man knows whereof he speaks. In January 2010, he released a book of thoughts about the Republican future titled Right Now. It became one of the (many, many) brickbats that his enemies in the party tossed back at him. Cain is in a completely different situation, surging in polls as a presidential candidate, but he’s confusing some fans by continuing a book tour in Tennessee – not an early primary state – instead of hot-footing it to Iowa.

“I get the sense,” said Steele of Cain, “that people around him are looking at each other, and saying: ‘Gee, it’s catching fire out there?’ I’ve heard about them hunkering down, getting on ground, doing some of the things they need to do, and they better, because the suddenness of this is now hitting them. He needs organization. He’s got to get on the state ballots, because the deadlines are coming up.”

Steele was speaking as a fan who hasn’t endorsed anyone but wants to see Cain do well. “I’ve known him for 10 or 15 years,” said Steele. “He’s the genuine article. The guy you see out there is the guy that I first met a decade or so ago.”