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Raising Cain

Headline punsters, start your engines. There may be a lot more stories about Herman Cain coming.

The only GOP presidential hopeful who can be described with the title “pizza magnate” received only an asterisk of media attention when he became the first contender to launch a presidential exploratory committee earlier this year.

But a new poll from Gallup shows that the radio host and former Godfather’s Pizza CEO – who has never held elected office -- is now registering support comparable to that of a former House Speaker, a two-time presidential candidate, and a two-term governor.

In the new poll of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, Cain debuted at eight percent, barely trailing former Speaker Newt Gingrich (nine percent) and Rep. Ron Paul (10 percent) -- and beating serious contenders former Gov. Tim Pawlenty (six percent) and former Gov. Jon Huntsman (two percent.)

Cain has benefited from a rigorous campaign schedule and solid performances at multi-candidate forums, most notably the FOX News debate earlier this month. Cain, who shared the stage with Pawlenty and Paul, won wildly enthusiastic reviews from a FOX-organized post-debate focus group led by pollster Frank Luntz.

Leading the Gallup survey were former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at 17 percent and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin at 15 percent.