As the Occupy Wall Street protest entered its fifth week, the movement's reverberations remained present on the national stage. This was reflected in the Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas on Tuesday night when Republican presidential candidate and former restaurant executive Herman Cain was asked to explain his position on the Occupy Wall Street protesters.
CNN's Anderson Cooper read a statement made by Cain two weeks ago where Cain suggested the protesters look at themselves and hold themselves accountable in contrast to seeking blame in Wall Street.
"'Don't blame Wall Street,'" Cooper quoted Cain as having said. "'Don't blame the big banks. If you don't have a job or you're not rich, blame yourself.' That was two weeks ago. The movement has grown. Do you still say that?"
"Yes I do still say that, and here's why," Cain replied. "I still stand by my statement, and here's why. They might be frustrated with Wall Street and the bankers, but they're directing their anger at the wrong place. Wall Street didn't put in failed economic policies. Wall Street didn't spend a trillion dollars that didn't do any good. Wall Street isn't going around the country trying to sell another $450 billion. They ought to be over in front of the White House, taking out their frustrations."
President Obama and many Democratic congressional leaders have openly embraced the Occupy Wall Street protesters.
"The protests you're seeing are the same conversations people are having in living rooms and kitchens all across America," senior White House adviser David Plouffe said, according to the Wall Street Journal
. "People are frustrated by an economy that does not reward hard work and responsibility, where Wall Street and Main Street don't seem to play by the same set of rules."
However, as Wall Street Journal pollster Douglas Schoen discovered through interviews with the protesters, the Occupy Wall Street population is decidedly leftist in its politics and activist-oriented in its tactics.
"Our research shows clearly that the movement doesn't represent unemployed America and is not ideologically diverse," Schoen wrote. "Rather, it comprises an unrepresentative segment of the electorate that believes in radical redistribution of wealth, civil disobedience and, in some instances, violence. Half (52%) have participated in a political movement before, virtually all (98%) say they would support civil disobedience to achieve their goals, and nearly one-third (31%) would support violence to advance their agenda."
But Columbia University professor Todd Gitlin sought to frame the Occupy Wall Street protest along the lines of the agendas being addressed by the protesters.
"What's at issue here is the growing power and wealth of the top 1 percent," Gitlin told American Public Media
. "And this took decades to arrive, and therefore, it's not going to be settled overnight. So one has to think of this as a movement that at least aspirationally is going after bigger game."
But judging by the applause Herman Cain received for his response to Anderson Cooper's question, the Obama administration may very well be taking a big gamble in siding so openly with the protesters.