Interviews

Cain: I'm Not the Flavor of the Week

2012 hopeful on surging poll numbers, Tennessee bus tour

 

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF "YOUR WORLD": Herman Cain kicking off a bus tour through Tennessee today.

He joins me right now on the phone.

Herman, always good to have you.

And congratulations on these continuing strong poll numbers. But they’re all gunning for you here. They’re looking at the 999 thing, and say, it doesn’t add up, close, close, close.

So with your rise has come the hits. Are you surprised?

HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, I’m not, Neil.

I woke up after I vaulted to the top with a bigger bulls eye on my back, and the arrows just haven’t stopped coming. But you know what, Neil? It is the most pleasant pain I have ever felt in my life. But, no, we did expect it. And you know they’re going to try and find everything in the world wrong with 999. They are going to try to find everything wrong with me as a candidate. They’re already talking about I haven’t had previous high office experience.

But you know what, Neil? Here’s what they’re missing. And I just saw this here in Bartlett, Tennessee. We were in Bartlett, Tennessee. We went over to Jackson. We had 3,000 people come out in the middle of the day to hear me speak.

They are out of touch, Neil, with what the real people out there are saying, which is why I’m starting to move up in these polls. And I’m not going to be a flavor of the week, I assure you.

CAVUTO: You obviously are keeping that position about rising in some of these polls. You’re ahead in Florida. You’re ahead in a lot of these states where you were just an asterisk not too long ago.

But I talked to one pollster not too long ago, and a political historian just earlier on this very show, who said you need money, and you don’t have much money, and that is what is going to be your undoing.

Are you really that hurting for money?

CAIN: No, we’re not.

We’re going to report for the second quarter, Neil -- I just got these numbers today -- we’re going to report over a million dollars cash on hand and no debt. This is what people are missing. Now, ever since October 1, up until today, October 14, our fund-raising and contributions have literally quadrupled.

So we are doing quite well as far as fund-raising, although we...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: When you say it’s quadruple, when you know that people like Mitt Romney are taking in $17 million, $18 million and some of these others are taking in double-digit-million dollars, and there you are, you know, with a million dollars cash on hand, not too shabby, but not remotely financially competitive.

CAIN: Right. Right. Exactly.

But, Neil, here’s why we don’t -- we’re not looking to raise the biggest amount of money. The traditional model is top-down, where you need to be -- you need to raise the most amount of money, so you can waste it on attacking somebody on TV.

I’m on a bus tour here in Tennessee, and getting thousands and thousands of people to come out. One of the things that came out of that Florida straw poll, Neil, is that message is more powerful than money.

And that’s why I’m up in the polls. And this is why I don’t need to have more money than them or raise a billion dollars like Obama. The American people, they’re listening to my message. And part of that message, as you know, is that 999 plan.

CAVUTO: All right, now, on the 999 plan -- and you have heard it from all sides and all angles, is that it’s criticized as being very regressive, and that folks who don’t earn that much money will be directly impacted by that national sales tax, if you will, a tax that your critics say will only go up, because that’s Washington’s ways, and that that’s the bone of contention.

In the last debate, in fact, that was raised by folks like Senator Santorum, who said try selling that in New Hampshire, where they have a thing against anything like that, and that that is going to kill you there, and as more people grasp what you’re talking about, they are going to say, well, wait a minute, this 999 thing is -- is risky.

What do you say?

CAIN: Well, first of all, it is not regressive. And to the people who say it is regressive on the poor, I simply say, do the math.

They say that, Neil, but they never offer you any proof based upon the assumptions that we have in our analysis. And, by the way, we’re willing to share our analysis with anybody who wants to see it, if they contact us.

Secondly, that shows the difference between all of the politicians and Herman Cain. The politicians want to basically propose something that they think they can pass. I’m proposing solutions that will solve the problem.

And the problem we have right now is that this economy is on life support. And this plan has been scored, and it’s going to boost this economy at about a 5 percent growth rate, six million new jobs, and, more importantly, businesses are going to feel some certainty and they are going to be in a mode to grow again.

Most of the criticisms of 999, Neil, they are unfounded and untrue, but they won’t give you their proof as to why they’re saying these things. Now, here’s the other thing that they hate most about 999. The people get it. And as far as giving Congress sales tax to tax us on, it is -- it is simple, transparent and visible.

The American people are going to be the one to hold Congress’ feet to the fire. I would rather have one thing to watch than 100,000 sneak attacks in the current tax code. And I think that the American people get that.

CAVUTO: Now, I know, with the 9 percent sales tax, you’re trying to take money that’s in the underground economy, or those who try to dodge paying income taxes or skate off with write-offs and the rest by not paying these taxes, you take that out of the underground, you could raise a good deal of money.

And I know you talk to economists who say they have crunched the numbers, Art Laffer among them, who say they do add up. There are many others who say they don’t add up, Herman. You have heard all that criticism.

I guess what I’m trying to get from you is, the sales tax is something that sticks in people’s craw. Would you ever consider just making it’s a 99 plan, that you’re facing so much heat on the 9 percent sales tax thing, that they’re ignoring the 9 percent corporate tax thing, the 9 percent income tax thing?

CAIN: The answer is no, Neil, for the following reason.

When we went through the logic of putting this together, we knew that in order to raise the same amount of revenue from five sources, we had to expand the base. Bringing in the sales tax expands the base. Secondly, by expanding the base, that’s why we ended up with a rate as low as 9 percent.

CAVUTO: Well, you know, what you’re saying, Herman...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: No, no, it makes sense. I’m just telling you that they have said that’s how the value added tax started in France. I think it was 5 percent.

CAIN: Right. Right.

CAVUTO: It’s up to 20 percent now, north of that in England, north of that, I hate to say it, in my mother Italy, that, all of a sudden, what starts as a low number, and with the good intentions, then goes only, only higher.

Now, I know what you’re saying, that all these rates are below what we’re looking at now.

CAIN: Yes.

CAVUTO: Then they come after you and say, well, you know what? You’re not looking at something that’s revenue-neutral. So you’re getting zoomed on both ends here.

CAIN: Exactly.

But, see, Neil, here’s how we’re going to prevent what you call tax creep. And that is, I support a balanced budget amendment. A lot of people in Congress support a balanced budget amendment. And the other thing is, if we -- they are assuming that Washington is not going to break its addiction to increased spending.

I am determined as president to change the culture in Washington, D.C., where we spend within our means, and there won’t be a need to try and rationalize why we need to raise those numbers. That’s the difference.

They’re operating off of the old paradigm. I’m operating off of a new paradigm.

CAVUTO: Real quickly -- I know you have got to go, Herman, but I was talking to another strategist in one of your competitors’ campaigns who was saying the way to get Herman is to show his ignorance on foreign policy. That’s his weakness. That’s his Achilles’ heel. That’s where we will show him not to be ready for presidential prime time.

You have told me in prior interviews that isn’t your strength, you’re studying up, you’re getting to be a good student of all of this, but that that is a weakness.

We live in volatile times. This new Iran threat is getting people concerned that you’re not up to that fight. What do you say?

CAIN: Well, Neil, have you ever heard the old expression the tiger in the tall grass, just sort of wait? Do they think, for the last nine months, I have not been studying the foreign policy challenges that we face?

Do they think, for the last nine months, I have not been consulting with a group of foreign policy advisers about all of the different situations that we’re in? Do they think for a moment that I’m not a student of the position that I seek and that I probably know more about foreign policy than they think?

So, my -- what I’m saying, Neil, is, I hope they continue to think that I am foreign policy-dumb, until the right time, they will find out I’m not as foreign policy-dumb as they think. I have been a student of every one of these issues for a long, long, long time. So I hope they continue to maintain that attitude.

CAVUTO: If I can squeeze in one last thought from you on the Wall Street protests, New York Mayor Bloomberg was going to disperse them today to clean up the Lower Manhattan park they have been sort of camping out in. He didn’t do that. So the protest grows, gets more impressive, not only here, but across the country.

What do you think of these protesters?

CAIN: Well, first of all, these protesters resisting leaving so somebody else can clean up their mess is another indication that they have misplaced objectives, whatever they are.

I believe that these protesters are protesting the wrong people. Wall Street manages money. Wall Street didn’t pass the failed economic policies of the Obama administration. Wall Street didn’t spend a trillion dollars on a bail -- on a stimulus package that didn’t work. Wall Street didn’t drive up the unemployment rate to 9.1 percent.

Wall Street isn’t proposing to spend another $450 billion, which is just stimulus two. They are protesting the wrong ones. It should be over at the White House.

Neil, you know I’m not mad at you. I just get passionate when I talk about this stuff.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: All right.

CAIN: They are protesting the wrong place.

CAVUTO: OK.

CAIN: Now, Neil, one other quick thing.

CAVUTO: Sure. Go ahead.

CAIN: The reason that they’re protesting Wall Street is to create a distraction for this administration of all of its failed policies. So, they are wrong, and they are basically just being a voice of distraction.

But let me tell about what the American people out here -- out here, where the real folk are, they’re not being fooled by this distraction.

CAVUTO: All right. We will watch closely.

Herman Cain, thank you. Be well.

CAIN: Always a pleasure, Neil. Thank you.

CAVUTO: Herman Cain, right now the front-running presidential candidate among the Republicans. So, we will see how long that lasts. He seems to be still holding pretty stable in these polls.

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