Interview with Presidential Candidate Herman Cain

Interview with Presidential Candidate Herman Cain

By State of the Union - November 27, 2011

I'm Candy Crowley and this is STATE OF THE UNION.

'Tis the season for endorsements, or not. A big "not" this week in Iowa from The Family Leader, the influential social conservative group said it won't even consider backing Herman Cain, citing, in part, "a narrative of questions versus clarity on the key issues of life, marriage, foreign policy, and presidential readiness."

And joining us now from Atlanta is Herman Cain.

Mr. Cain, thank you so much for joining us here. I want to show our audiences, we noted you were the front-runner in October. This is our latest CNN/ORC poll, which shows you running at about 17 percent. That's an 8-point drop since October.

You have The Manchester Union Leader coming out and endorsing Newt Gingrich, who's now first in some of these polls. You have The Family Leader saying they just don't -- they don't even want to consider you because they don't really think you are ready for it.

What do you think has gone wrong in the past month or so?

HERMAN CAIN, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, obviously false accusations and confusion about some of my positions has contributed to it. And that was to be expected. In terms of the campaign itself, nothing has gone wrong in terms of our strategy of spending time in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, and Florida. So in terms of the mechanics of the campaign, nothing has gone wrong. But as you know, Candy, some people are heavily influenced by perception more so than reality. The good news is, most of my supporters, they have stayed on the Cain train, as we say.

CROWLEY: And but let me talk a little bit about perception and maybe what you think you might have done to add to some of this perception. We have the words from The Family Leader today saying there just isn't some clarity in so many things they wanted to know from, you know, abortion and family issues, to foreign policy.

And there is a group called, a non-partisan group that kind of looks at what people say. They looked at your stories on -- your words on the allegations of sexual harassment, your explanation of your position on abortion, some of your answers on foreign policy, and took into consideration your 999 policy and what it would do to those below the poverty level, and they were even harder on you than The Family Leader. And wrote: "What's clear in all of this is that when Cain plays fast and loose with the facts and when he comes under attack, he exhibits a pattern of evasiveness and misdirection, changing his position and then blaming others for misunderstanding him."

Do you think that you've made some mistakes here in dealing with some of these things that have come at you pretty hard and heavy over the past month?

CAIN: Well, some of them, Candy, have been taken out of context. So let me just set the record straight. I am pro-life from conception, period. Secondly...

CROWLEY: And would you agree there was confusion there because you indicated in some interviews that that wasn't your position.

CAIN: No, I did not. See, that was taken out of context is what I'm saying. The interview where it was taken out of context was a highly hypothetical situation and they pulled that out without showing the entire segment.

So this is why I'm setting the record straight because confusion has been generated. I'm pro-life from conception.

Secondly, on foreign policy, my foreign policy philosophy is peace through strength and clarity. I've been real clear about that. And the other thing relative to foreign policy is that I've been real clear about how I disagree with President Obama on the draw-down of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, et cetera.

So I've been real clear. But a lot of confusion has been thrown my way and that's part of the -- part of politics, as they say. But it's real clear where I stand.

CROWLEY: You don't think you could be clearer? Because it does seem, like you said to our Piers Morgan, that when the question comes to life of the mother in abortion, that should be up to the family. But you're saying that was taken out of context. CAIN: Yes, Candy. I -- that whole segment I talked about my position on life from conception, no exceptions. They didn't show that. Then he basically raised a highly hypothetical situation relative to if it were my granddaughter, and that's when they took that part out of context because of a poor choice of words in retrospect that then got later blown out and it became the story.

CROWLEY: I mean, I guess that's what I'm getting to, is that you did say, well, that should be up to the family, in response to a specific question about your granddaughter.

And so I just wonder if you just...

CAIN: But, Candy, Candy, please. Please allow me. See, the issue of, do I believe abortion should be illegal? The answer is absolutely, yes. But see, when it is taken to another hypothetical situation, that's what was taken out of context.

CROWLEY: OK. Let me move you on to some issues here. As you know, in the foreign policy national security debate, Newt Gingrich caused quite a storm when he said that he thought there should be a humane way to somehow legitimize some of the undocumented workers that have been in this country for 25 years, paid their taxes, played by the rules, had family ties. Do you agree with that?

CAIN: My position has been real clear. The illegal immigration issue is four problems. Secure the border for real. Enforce the laws that are there. I don't believe we need another path. We don't need any special exceptions. We need to clean up the bureaucracy that's already there. Promote the path...

CROWLEY: But there are 8 million -- there are 8 million undocumented workers...

CAIN: Promote the path to citizenship that's -- nope, Candy, I'm not going where Newt Gingrich is.


CAIN: I'm simply stating my position. My position is: Secure the border for real. Promote the path to citizenship that already exists. The problem is the bureaucracy in getting people here legally. Now then the fourth -- the way I would deal with those that are already here, which has been my stated position, empower the states to deal with the illegals that are already here. Not some big grandiose national one-size-fits-all.

I believe that the states should be empowered to deal with the illegals that are already here.

CROWLEY: So it would be OK with you if states said, all right, those of you who meet certain criteria can be put on a path toward legalization, towards citizenship?

CAIN: It would be up to the states as long as they did not break the federal law. CROWLEY: OK. So that -- in some ways, this is an issue you would leave to the states but you don't argue with Newt Gingrich's position even though his is -- seemed to be a federal position, that he would like the federal government to take that position.

CAIN: Right. His position has created some controversy. You know, here's another one of those, you know, gray areas that he has thrown out there that has created some controversy.

So I'm basically re-stating what I have stated consistently relative to that.

CROWLEY: Which is that it would be OK to you if states granted some sort of amnesty to those that are already living here.

CAIN: No, no, no, Candy... CROWLEY: OK. Let's change the word...

CAIN: ... I did not use that word.

CROWLEY: All right.

CAIN: This is how -- this is how misperceptions get started. I am not saying that at all. I am saying...

CROWLEY: But you're saying it is OK with you if states said to undocumented workers, if you meet certain criteria, you may stay here.

CAIN: No, no, no.

CROWLEY: Isn't that what you just...

CAIN: That's not what I'm saying.

CROWLEY: All right.

CAIN: Let me go back. Let's try this one more time.

CROWLEY: OK. All right.

CAIN: Please. Give me a chance one more time to state this...

CROWLEY: Go right ahead.

CAIN: ... because it is a package. Secure the border for real, promote the path to citizenship that's already there. And the path to citizenship that's already there doesn't say anything about amnesty.

Thirdly, enforce the laws that are already there. But make it easier for companies to be able to enforce the laws.

And fourth, empower the states. Don't give the states any, you know, special things to do. Just empower them to do, within the law, what the federal government is not doing. That's my approach to the whole issue. CROWLEY: I think I'm a little confused but we want to move on. We're going to take a quick break and when we come back I'll move to some other issues of the day. We'll be right back.


CROWLEY: Back with the Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain.

Mr. Cain, because the super committee didn't get its work done, there are many things that are going to expire at the end of the year if Congress doesn't act on them. I wanted to get your opinion on a couple of them.

One of them is there is a payroll tax cut that is what you pay for Social Security in your paycheck that has been in effect, it is a little over 2 percent. If Congress does not act, that payroll tax cut will go away, meaning that about almost $1,000 to the average American will be gone from their paycheck.

Do you support extending that payroll tax cut?

CAIN: I could support extending it, but here's the problem, it didn't do any good the first time. That is a thimble of water in the ocean. The president...

CROWLEY: But isn't it something?

CAIN: Of course it is.

CROWLEY: I mean, if you've got millions of Americans that have $1,000 more in their pocket, that has got to help.

CAIN: Candy, I'm agreeing with you. A thousand dollars would help a lot of people, but it is a distraction from the big problem and that is a lack of effective economic policy to grow this economy.

So argument over whether or not we should extend it or not extend it or not extend it, that's not the issue. The issue is where's, the economic growth for the entire economy?

CROWLEY: Long-term unemployment benefits expire at the end of this year, that is, unemployment benefits for those who have been unemployed for 99 weeks or more.

CAIN: Right.

CROWLEY: Do you believe those unemployment benefits should be extended? CAIN: No. And here's why. Where do we stop, Candy, is the question? Here again, extending unemployment benefits, extending the cut in the payroll tax are just distractions from the bigger problem, which is lack of economic growth which has not been there.

Secondly, we're spending money we do not have. It's unfortunate that people are unemployed. This is one of the reasons that I have proposed a bold plan to get this economy going which you know is 999. People need to go -- want to go back to work. That's the good news.

But this economy is not producing the jobs in order to get 14 million people that are unemployed back to work.

CROWLEY: Well, and about 2 million of those will lose their benefits if long-term unemployment benefits are not extended. And there are lots of studies that show that one of the quickest ways to get money into the economy is through these unemployment benefits.

So if I read you correctly, you would not be for extending those for another year but you would be for the payroll tax cut.

CAIN: Candy, it's not that simple. And this is part of the problem. What we need to do to get this economy growing is to put fuel in the engine which is to cut taxes to businesses and individuals.

Rather than just cutting the payroll tax where people might have a thousand dollars, let's cut -- if the president wants to do something in the short term, cut income taxes, cut corporate taxes.

CROWLEY: Sure, but that's...

CAIN: This is something that I was proposing earlier. That would -- that would solve the problem. This is just tinkering around the edges. That's what I'm saying.

CROWLEY: Right. And it may well be in terms of not getting huge tax reform around not reforming Social Security or Medicare. But that -- none of those big things are going to happen by the end of this year.

So that's why I'm asking, these are going to come up incrementally and so I'm asking you whether you think, in the absence of these other things that you are talking about, those ought to be pass.

CAIN: But, Candy, if the president were to go to Congress and say, I want to lower personal income taxes and corporate taxes by a significant amount in order to do something such that next year will not be an economic flat line, I believe he could get that support. It simply is not in his DNA.

So, no, taking a position on extending unemployment benefits, or leaving that 2 percentage point reduction in payroll taxes, that's not working on the right problem. That's my point. CROWLEY: All right. Let me move you to some foreign policy issues. In the debate recently, you were asked about the TSA. And I just want to remind our viewers what you said.


CAIN: I believe we can do a whole lot better with TSA and I call it "targeted identification." If you take a look at the people who have tried to kill us, it would be easy to figure out exactly what that identification profile looks like. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: "Targeted identification." Can you expand on that? Is that another word for profiling?

CAIN: I don't see it as another word for profiling. This is why I use the term "targeted identification."


CAIN: If we go to...

CROWLEY: What's the difference?

CAIN: "Targeted identification" is a deliberate approach to figure out patterns associated with people who have tried to kill us. That's what that is. Profiling has been used in a lot of other situations and it obscures the whole issue. "Targeted identification."

If we go to the intelligence agencies and ask them to identify the people that have tried to hurt us, kill us, blow up our planes and things of this nature, they could do that. So "targeted identification," in my mind, is different from profiling because profiling has been used in a very negative way.

CROWLEY: And so -- but this sounds a little bit like "flying while Middle Eastern," not unlike, you know, "driving while black." Is that -- I'm just trying to get a handle on how you would do this.

CAIN: Candy, you are trying to pull me into the rhetoric that gets people in trouble, and what I'm trying to do is to not be drawn in to that. No. I am not trying to identify a particular religion, a particular color, a particular ethnicity.

I'm simply saying we should not be afraid to identify those characteristics that basically have been consistent in people who have tried to hurt this country. That's all I'm saying.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you, Governor Romney said, when you were talking about Israel and the Middle East during the debate, that the first country he would visit, should he become president, would be Israel, just to show the nature of that special relationship. Where would the first country be that Herman Cain visits?

CAIN: Israel would be one of the first countries. I might do a swing through Europe and the Middle East, and certainly Israel would be one of the countries that I would want to visit as part of my first foreign visit because I feel strongly that we should stand with Israel and we should basically strengthen that relationship. So it would be one of the first amongst many that I would include in an overseas trip.

CROWLEY: Herman Cain, thank you for being with us. We appreciate it. See you on the campaign trail.

CAIN: Thank you, Candy. 

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