Getting the Details Right

The political corner of the Internet shared a nice laugh yesterday about Herman Cain's latest campaign ad. Cain's chief of smoking chief of staff Mark Block went on Fox News to explain the video. Megan Kelly asked if it was directed at farmers or workers in Detroit, rather than the West- and East-coast liberals in the media (contra the newsrooms staffed by chain smokers where I've worked).

"I tell you, you walk into a veterans' bar in Iowa and they're sitting around smoking, and we are resonating with them," Block said.

As National Journal notes, in 2008 Iowa banned indoor smoking for most venues, even bars frequented by veterans. I lived in Iowa at that time and my memories are full of disgruntled friends leaving their drinks to go shiver outside the bar doorway as they railed against the new law. It's a silly, immaterial flub for Block, though it is yet another sign that Cain is not running a real presidential campaign. Walk through most Iowa small towns and you'd spot the crowd of smokers huddled outside the towns' watering hole. But Cain and Block have spent little time in Iowa. After he finished fifth at the Ames Straw Poll in August, Cain didn't return to Iowa until this past weekend, and that was just to swing by a diner in Des Moines, not the kind of small-town, hand-shaking tours that have come to define successful caucus campaigns. In those intervening months, Cain's pseudo-presidential campaign instead traveled to states with no immediate bearing on the contest, pushing sales for his new book.

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