TALLADEGA, AL – Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain's surge in the polls has been accompanied by a surge in campaign contributions.
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Cain campaign spokesman JD Gordon said Friday the campaign was projecting close to $5 million in contributions for the month of October alone. That compares to $2.8 million in three months ending in September, the last quarterly period that Cain's campaign filed fundraising reports with the Federal Election Commission.
In an interview with FOX Business on Friday, the candidate for the Republican presidential nomination said of his rising donations: "Not bad for a long shot, huh?"
Cain discussed his campaign on his campaign bus shortly before a rally in Talladega, Ala. Cain was campaigning across Alabama on Friday and Saturday; the state holds its primary on March 13.
While a FOX News poll put Cain, a former pizza chain CEO, at the head of the pack of Republican candidates, he declined to call himself the front runner.
"I would say that I am one of the front runners because, as you know, if you are within three or four or even five points (of a challenger), that can change next week from one poll to another," he said. "So I don't see myself as a clear front runner because I don't have a double digit lead. But I would say that I am right up there in the pack."
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The FOX News poll, released Wednesday, found 24% of registered Republican voters favor Cain as their nominee, compared to 20% for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, 12% for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and 10% for Texas Governor Rick Perry.
Romney reported he raised $14.2 million in the third quarter, and Perry reported $17.2 million in campaign donations for the period.
"Our money has picked up dramatically, our organization is expanding rapidly, and they had more money than me and more organization than we did before I got to this point," Cain said. "So we are just simply going to continue to execute our strategy and continue to work hard. We're building an organization very rapidly and the good news is there are a lot of good people out there and the fundraising has picked up substantially just within the last three or four weeks."
New York Times Story 'Totally False'
Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain lashed out at the New York Times on Friday, calling "totally false" a story reporting his campaign was disorganized and questioning his private sector executive experience, the foundation of his White House run.
But he acknowledged his campaign had suffered staff turnover and that at least one of the items in the Times story was accurate: that he had asked some departing staff members to sign non-disclosure agreements.
"My response to the Times article is: they don't know what they are talking about," Cain said in an interview with FOX Business. "They are trying to draw a conclusion based upon anecdotal information from some disgruntled employees."
"We have a very solid organization, the fundraising is coming in, and you are always going to have turnover when you are building a new organization, whether that is in business or whether that is in government," Cain said. "And so their accusation that we aren't managing properly, that's totally false."
He added that "every campaign has turnover. So what's so special about the fact that I had a few people turn over? Now, if they want to base it off that premise, look at what we've done since then. It doesn't seem as if those people that left slowed us down, in fact our momentum has picked up dramatically."
Cain argues his business experience -- he is the former CEO of Godfather's Pizza and also was a Burger King executive -- makes him better qualified to be president than his rivals, who he says are more politicians by trade.
The lead of the Times story read: "If Herman Cain feels his management skills are up to any challenge, some of his former staff members think he should have started with the disorder of his own campaign."
Cain said non-disclosure forms for departing employees was a "standard business practice."
"When somebody leaves your company and they are going to get severance, they do sign a non-disclosure. That's standard operating procedure," Cain said. "Why? Because you don't want people going out there trashing your organization and you not have some sort of recourse to make sure that they are telling the truth. And in this case some of those people are not telling the truth, they are opening themselves up to lawsuit."
But Cain denied comments from a former campaign staff member -- quoted anonymously, like most of the sources in the Times story -- that staff had been told in an email, "Do not speak to him (Cain) unless you are spoken to."
"That's bull-feathers," Cain said. "I'm a businessman. I've been a businessman all my life. I've always had an open door policy in everything that I've done. How in the world could I have succeeded in over forty years in business trying to muzzle people? That is absolutely a ridiculous claim."
However, at a press conference later Friday, Cain told reporters that he has told staff members to "shut up" when he is preparing for a speech.
He added, "If I'm preparing for a speech or preparing for a debate, they know be quiet because i'm trying to get my thoughts together. So whoever said that, that's the truth...This is how I prepare, because you want to be mentally prepared. So...yes they give me quiet time when I'm trying to prepare."