America: Is Cain capable?

Not as a political heavyweight so far, yet African American Republican Herman Cain has a catchy economic theme. And a strangely absent wife.

Never having achieved political office Herman Cain, a 67-year old conservative Republican from Georgia, has caught the imagination of certain sections of his party and even pipped Mitt Romney in one recent poll. A stirring speaker, Cain has promoted his 9-9-9 tax concept: the rate he proposes should be set for personal, corporate and sales thresholds.

Foreign policy is his weakest link. Although failing to name the president of somewhere obscure like Uzbekistan, a country producing beautifully crafted carpets yet famed for little else, is barely a sin.

But where is Herman's hermit wife? 43 years ago he married Gloria Etchison, a former teacher and librarian, but she has failed to show up yet on the campaign trail. Professing that she's fully behind his bid for the White House, Cain has been unable to persuade her to front up. Should he make it to Washington, this computer analyst turned Burger King executive turned Kansas City Reserve Bank Governor turned company director cum columnist and radio host would perhaps have the least visible First Lady in American history.

Now American voters have broken the taboo of a black presidency, could Republicans regain the White House with an African American of their own?

Not if the political Right remains so split between Perry and Cain, as Mitt Romney's campaign train steams relentlessly through the centre of the conservative melee.

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