Herman Cain is the plain-talking and surging Republican presidential candidate everyone knows for his 9-9-9 plan and his days at the helm of Godfather's Pizza. But the AP takes a closer look at his resume, and finds close and longstanding ties to Americans for Prosperity, the right-leaning advocacy group funded by the controversial billionaire Koch brothers. It seems that, dating back as far as 2005, Cain traveled the country speaking to nascent AFP chapters; several of his top campaign aides, including his campaign manager, are AFP alums.
"He's got a national network now that perhaps he wouldn't have had 15 or 20 years ago because of his work with AFP," says a top GOP official in Wisconsin. "For a presidential candidate, that's obviously helpful to have." Another AFP official calls Cain a "dynamic, pro-business speaker" and says Cain and the AFP share a "natural overlap." But his ties with AFP could hurt Cain's outsider image among Tea Partiers, and neither Cain nor the Kochs would respond to requests for comment. Liberals are already pouncing: "Herman Cain is the first presidential corporate spokes-candidate," says one lefty in Wisconsin. "The best way to have your issues talked about is to have a candidate in your pocket with snappy comebacks and easily branded policy papers which mask how destructive they would be." Over at Politico, a former colleague at the Federal Reserve is praising Cain. (Read more Herman Cain stories.)