A Teleconference With Herman Cain


Ah, the first teleconference of the 2012 presidential cycle! Here are my notes, not quotes from Herman Cain’s first presidential teleconference.

Intro by Ellen Carmichel

Hermain Cain has won a straw poll, been to Iowa 20 times, and has been supporting Scott Walker in Wisconsin. He hasn’t officially decided to run, but it’s going well.

Hermain Cain’s opening remarks

My toe is no longer just in the water; it’s all the way up to my neck. So, I’m very interested in running.

I’m from Georgia, worked for the Department of the Navy, climbed the corporate ladder, was appointed head of Godfather’s Pizza and kept that company from going into bankruptcy. I then ran the national restaurant association. I ran for the Senate in Georgia, came in 2nd place, within 2 percentage points of a run-off.

Why am I running for President? In 1999, when my first grandchild was born, the first thought that crossed my mind was, “What can I do to make this a better world?” I didn’t know what the answer was then.

The other thing that convinced me to run was being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. I had a 30% chance of survival. Now, I am cancer free. I beat the odds there and beat the odds at Godfather’s. So, my motivation for running is to get this country running back in the right direction.

One of the things I learned being a talk radio show host for 5 years was that you had to know the issues and look for common sense solutions.

Q&A Session

Do you worry that too many candidates might split the vote? Do you worry about that? I think my name ID with the Tea Party movement is good. I am not as popular as a Mike Huckabee or a Sarah Palin. But, the foot soldiers know who I am.

If you do seek the presidency, what qualities would you look for in a running mate?

I would want a running mate with courage who will tell the American people the truth.

Could you talk about how your faith will guide your presidency?

I don’t apologize for my faith and think America is a Judeo-Christian nation. I will allow Muslims/Jihadists to practice their beliefs as President, but I won’t allow them to force Sharia law on the rest of us.

What issue would you hit Obama on the hardest?

The economy. His strategy of spending to stimulate the economy has failed. As President, I would propose to Congress that we do the following 5 things.

1) Lower the top corporate tax rate from 35% to 25%.

2) Make the tax rates permanent.

3) Take capitol gains to zero.

4) Suspend the tax on repatriated profits.

5) Provide a full payroll tax holiday for employees and employers to stimulate the economy.

What do you think about health care in America?

We have had a cost crisis in health care in America. HR3400 does have patient-centered, market-driven proposals that would lower cost and increase accessibility. Obamacare is a disaster.

You supported TARP early on. Could you talk about your position?

Conceptually, I agreed with TARP at first. But when they implemented TARP, they made the rules up as they went along. They were partial to big banks rather than making sure that money went to community banks and small banks; it caused a lot of problems. They did it the wrong way.

What are your competitors going to find when they do opposition research on that?

“I have an original copy of my birth certificate. I don’t have any illegitimate babies. I don’t have any mistresses.”

My question for Herman Cain: I think you’re a charismatic guy and have a lot of real world experience that qualifies you for the presidency. Still, I have two concerns. You ran for the Senate in Georgia and lost. Now you’re running on a higher level. Also, you have been doing talk radio for 5 years. Are your opponents going to find damaging quotes they can take out of context?

They will take things I have said out of context. I trust that the American people will see through it. I did lose in Georgia, but it was by 2 points and I got started late. I learned from it. I learned to start earlier and hire better people around me.

On TARP, who’s more responsible: Obama or Bush?

I think they’re equally responsible.

On Social Security.

I support what Paul Ryan is proposing on Social Security. Why? Chile did it and it worked. They not only had an optional personal retirement account system. 90% of the people in Chile went to it. It works. We should take that to the American people. We won’t stop these impending disasters trimming around the edges. We shouldn’t be making it easier to get on Medicare. We need to encourage people to help themselves.

On Social Security, how do you reach young people?

I think I can get it across to people 40 or younger that they are contributing 12.3% of every dime to a system that will provide you with nothing when you reach retirement age. If they try the system I’m suggesting, you will have money when you retire.

Would you support something that gave people a right to work?

The message to the unions is, “What part of broke do you not understand?” We can’t continue to fund these exorbitant benefit packages. They call it collective bargaining. They have a collective disregard for the taxpayers. This nation should be a right-to-work nation. Unions represent 10-12% of the workforce. The 88% of us need to say enough is enough.

What do you see as a necessity for getting your name and message out?

I’m speaking all across the country and reaching out to bloggers. The new media, television, radio, and the blogosphere have changed the political dynamics of this country. Without you, a guy like Hermain Cain wouldn’t have a chance.

What kind of help do you think you could do to help states dealing with unions?

Well, I wouldn’t be biased in favor of the unions. Obama is favoring the unions over the other 88% of the population. Unions claim they want to protect the American family. But, they want to force people to join unions and bosses to give them part of your money as dues. What’s in favor of the family there?

Has the political establishment has been really unfriendly to outsiders trying to get in the race?

I don’t think they’re going to open up all guns on me because they want to win. Bob Dole? It was his turn. He lost. John McCain? It was his turn. He lost. We need a candidate that can go toe-to-toe with Obama. As soon as I do the first debate with Obama and I don’t have a teleprompter, people aren’t going to be saying, “Who is this guy?” They’ll be saying, “This must be Herman Cain.”

Are you a supporter of the FAIR TAX?

I’m a supporter, but you have to educate the public first. They need some time to understand what it can do.

Gas prices are high. How do you go forward with an energy policy?

Using strategic energy reserves to keep prices down is dumb. It’s supposed to be for an emergency. The reason we are so vulnerable is because we have never had an energy independence strategy. We’ve got plenty of oil and natural gas. We’ve even got plenty of oil if we got government out of the way.

What programs have you looked at, at this point to let the states handle themselves?

We must empower the states. 1) We need to let states control how they spend their money. 2) We have too many programs at the federal level that need to be handled at the state level. Great example: Medicaid. It should be block granted to the states.

What about the FED?

Auditing the FED isn’t that important to me, but I don’t object to it. If we eliminate the Fed, what are we going to replace it with? Do you think Congress can do that? I think that would be a big mistake. I think we should try to get the Fed on the right track. I think eliminating the Fed is impractical. To get back to the Gold standard, which I support, we need to get rid of the gold standard. We can’t have a gold standard with a 14 trillion dollar national debt. The gold standard would keep us from printing excessive money. I’m not a fan of the Fed; I just think we need some mechanism to do it.

Summary: There are some people who are treating Herman Cain as if he isn’t a candidate who deserves serious consideration for the presidency. Although I do have concerns about his time as a talk radio host (I think that’s generally, but not always, incompatible with running for office) and the fact that he lost the one time he ran for political office, I think Cain deserves real consideration. I think a comparable candidate would be Steve Forbes, who was taken seriously as a candidate when he ran in 1996 and 2000.

Cain is a very smart, very competent guy with a lot of charisma. I think he would probably make a pretty good President, which is more than I can say about some of the people running. However, is he ready for the biggest dance in politics? That has yet to be proven. Also, there’s a difference between a pitch that appeals to say, a conservative audience, and one that appeals to the general public. Cain has the former, but I am not sure how well his message is tailored for the latter.

Given that there’s no stand-out candidate running and that Cain has already generated some early enthusiasm, he has the potential to make more of a splash than people are anticipating.

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