WASHINGTON – Herman Cain, who barely ranked in public-opinion polls among the Republican presidential challengers before tonight’s televised debate in South Carolina, wowed a focus group of likely GOP voters assembled by pollster Frank Luntz.
Even Luntz said the reaction of the group was unprecedented in its unanimity – Cain won.
“In all the years I have been doing this, I have never seen a reaction like this to a debate,” said Luntz.
Most of those participating in the focus group had no previous familiarity with Cain. Only one of those bowled over by Cain watched the debate with intention of voting for him.
Cain’s take-charge line came halfway through the debate when he was challenged on his lack of political experience. Cain pointed out Washington is filled with political experience and asked, “How’s that working out for you?”
Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Donald Trump and Michele Bachmann skipped the debate – along with some others who have not yet announced their intentions, such as Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee.
The debate included former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson in addition to Cain.
Rick Santorum placed second in the debate, according to the focus group.