In the past couple of weeks, a man many voters had never heard of until recently surged in public opinion polls about the race for the U.S. Republican presidential nomination. Herman Cain, the former head of the Godfather's Pizza chain, has never been elected to public office. Many of Cain's supporters like him because he is not a career politician.
Wherever he goes these days, Herman Cain is besieged by fans. But many political analysts contend this political novice has no chance of winning the Republican nomination.
Cain dismisses such talk.
“The only ones who see that as a negative are the pundits who have been dead wrong up to this point in thinking that this long shot [unlikely winner] does not have a chance," he said.
But Cain lags behind in campaign fundraising compared with his leading rivals,Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Still, participants in a recent straw poll in Florida put Cain in first place.
“The overwhelming victory in that straw poll shows that message is more powerful than money," said Cain.
Cain wants to reform the U.S. tax system with his 9-9-9 plan, setting the income tax rate for corporations and individuals, as well as a national sales tax, all at nine percent.
Economists give the plan mixed reviews, but he says it will solve the country's fiscal crisis.
“If the American people understand it, they are going to support it and they are going to demand it," he said.
Hanne Kirkpatrick supports the plan.
“It levels the playing field, it makes everything fair," said Kirkpatrick.
Sales manager Renee Cummins likes Cain's business-like approach to government.
“The United States of America is headed toward bankruptcy, but if we were run more like a corporation, I think it would be better for everyone," said Cummins.
But some voters remain skeptical. Seventeen-year-old Sean Tucker will vote for the first time next year.
“He does not have experience actually playing the political game; he could find himself co-opted by corporate interests, assuming he already isn't," said Tucker.
With Cain now high up in most polls, other candidates will likely attack his tax plan, as well as his lack of government experience.
But, if he were to win the Republican nomination, it would be another milestone in U.S. history, with a black opposition candidate campaigning to replace the first black president.