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Cain Addresses Criticisms in Vegas Speech

Cain Addresses Criticisms in Vegas Speech

By Erin McPike - October 19, 2011


LAS VEGAS -- One day after taking hits for his "9-9-9" tax plan during the Republican presidential debate here, Herman Cain sought to dismantle each of the criticisms leveled against the proposal and said they were to be expected given his rise in the polls.

In a Wednesday afternoon speech to the Western Republican Leadership Conference, Cain addressed some of the specific attacks against his plan that would impose 9 percent taxes on individual income, retail sales and corporations. He also responded to claims that he has no foreign policy experience, and waved off the criticism of his style and sense of humor, saying, “I ain’t gonna change. No!” He added, “Stupid people are ruining America. The good news is we can outvote them.”

He said that the media is trying to dictate to the Republican base who their nominee will be based on money, but later pointed out that he’s gotten his campaign out of debt -- which ought to be a sign of his presidential abilities. “Message is more powerful than money,” he said.

As for foreign policy, he said, “I have been criticized for not having extensive foreign policy experience. And the guy there now does?”

Cain insisted that he does have a foreign policy, which is an extension of Ronald Reagan’s “peace through strength” mantra: “peace through strength and clarity.” He said he hopes to clarify who America’s friends are and who the nation’s enemies are. “Stop giving money to our enemies and tell the world who our friends are,” he said.

As for the raised eyebrows generated by his statement that he would not have a plan regarding U.S. interests in Afghanistan until he takes office, he repeated that he would surround himself with able advisers. He also said a plan for American energy independence would help put pressure on Iran to toe the line.

He admonished politicians for believing that making demands of China will bear a positive result. “My strategy for China is three words: Outgrow China,” he said, managing to use just two.

Cain said he would attempt to introduce his tax plan within the first 90 days of taking office, and he blasted Rick Santorum for criticizing it. The former Godfather's Pizza CEO reiterated his belief that politicians propose what they think can pass, whereas problem solvers go to the heart of the matter and try to fix it. He said -- incorrectly -- that he is the only GOP contender who wants to scrap the current tax code; Rick Perry said on the same stage Wednesday morning that his own plan, to be announced next week, will junk the current code and replace it with a flat tax.

When he began to say the name of his plan for the first time, the audience chanted: “9-9-9!”

“I love y’all. I love y’all,” he exclaimed. “The American people get it.” He said he is a man with vision and spoke specifically about his experiences in creating healthy competition: When he oversaw Burger King’s Philadelphia franchises, he said there were wars with McDonald’s over the price of Whoppers and Big Macs, respectively, at $2 vs. $1.99; now the battle is fought over the same burgers priced at 99 cents and $1. “Competition drives down prices,” he said.

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Erin McPike is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at emcpike@realclearpolitics.com. Follow her on Twitter @ErinMcPike.

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