Cain smoking ad brings flood of donations

While Herman Cain's viral Web ad — in which chief of staff Mark Block pointedly takes a drag from a cigarette after extolling the presidential candidate's virtues — might have raised eyebrows among political strategists and heckles in Internet comment sections, the ad seems to have also raised the rate at which the insurgent campaign is bringing in fundraising dollars.

Cain has brought in nearly $2 million within the last week alone, nearly doubling his weekly returns earlier this month, his campaign told The Wall Street Journal. By contrast, Cain only brought in $2.8 million over the entire third quarter.

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"Our donations online have shot up a lot since that ad,” Block told the Journal. “The money we are getting is wildly beyond our expectations."

Cain's campaign has argued that the ad was a manifestation of a nontraditional, down-to-earth style that has caught the Republican zeitgeist. The polls seem to echo that analysis, with Cain leading Mitt Romney 24 percent to 20 in a Fox News survey released earlier this week.

The candidate said earlier this week that the ad "did a great job" and represented his grassroots message.

"We have a saying in my campaign — let Herman be Herman. This is the attitude that I have when I do debates. This is the attitude I have when I do interviews: Let Herman be Herman. Mark Block is my chief of staff. And we also say, 'Let Mark be Mark,' " Cain said on Fox News. "Mark happens to be a smoker. He knows it's a bad habit, but he smokes. And so we weren't trying to send any subliminal message whatsoever. Many of us found it hilarious, because we know Mark Block."

Block said the ad enforced the idea of Cain as a "different kind of presidential candidate."

“Yes, the smoking part of that ad was controversial — and I don’t in any way condone smoking — but the message that Herman Cain is a different kind of presidential candidate is certainly resonating across the country,” Block said.