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Herman Cain forms presidential exploratory committee

Former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza and tea party favorite Herman Cain edged closer to entering the field of Republican 2012 presidential candidates on Wednesday. CNN reports that Cain has formed a presidential exploratory committee to weigh his chances in the nomination process.

Cain is a long shot candidate by any measure. He holds low name recognition and starts behind the majority of his opponents seeing as he has never held elected office. But Cain seems to relish being in the underdog position. “People who say that Herman Cain has no chance of winning the nomination for the Republican Party or win the in presidency – I simply say thank you,” Cain told CNN. “Because all my life I have been in situations where I wasn’t supposed to become VP of Pillsbury, I wasn’t supposed to be able to turn Godfather’s Pizza around…So to the people who say I don’t have a chance I say, thank you. Because that inspires me.”

Despite the challenges he faces, Cain could prove a force to be reckoned with in the nomination cycle. He is a popular conservative radio host and is a frequent speaker on the circuit of tea party events. His lack of political experience and business background may also prove beneficial: During the 2010 cycle, Republican primaries often favored the first-time candidate, though it remains to be seen if that dynamic will translate over to as large of a race as the presidential nomination. Cain has already been invited to take part in the first presidential forum, set to be held in Iowa on March 7.

Cain’s latest move does not come as much of a surprise. He has publicly toyed with a presidential run and recently indicated he would be forming a committee. What is notable is how few fellow Republicans have made the same move as Cain at this point in the nomination calendar. On Tuesday, Slate’s Dave Weigel pointed out that by this point in 2007, 14 candidates had already announced their intention to run, either through exploratory committees or full on campaigns. That list include most of the major candidates for each party, such as John McCain, Mitt Romney and John Edwards (Barack Obama launched his committee on Jan. 16, 2007). However, for the 2012 presidential race, the possible candidates have remained coy about their intentions. Before Cain’s announcement today, there was just Fred Karger — another long shot who has never held elected office — with an exploratory committee.

[h/t Ben Smith]

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