Herman Cain spoke to a crowd of approximately 130 people yesterday in Pella, IA in the 5th installment of The FAMiLY Leader’s Presidential Series at Pella Christian High School in Pella, IA. He addressed the group with no notes on his 19th visit to Iowa. In discussing his preparation to run for President he said that because of his radio programs he had to study the issues. He said, “it forced me to know too much about how bad things are.”
Interactions with his grandchildren, wanting to make a better place for them and ultimately time in prayer, Cain said, led him to the decision to run. He said the day broke the camel’s back was the day “Obamacare was signed against the will of the people.”
Cain said, as he has in other speeches that we’re a nation of crises: moral, economic, entitlement spending, energy, immigration, foggy foreign policy, and deficiency of leadership. He focused on his leadership style and his problem solving approach. He asked the group, “when is the last time they fixed something in DC?”
He said he would work on the “right problems, focus on the “right priorities”, surround himself with the “right people,” develop the “proper plans.” Then he said he would “engage the people.” He then gave examples of problem solving he would do as President.
He said with social security, that we in the United States need to look at Chile in order to see reforms that can be made. He isn’t the first to point out the South American country as a model. President George W. Bush in 2004 made a similar remarks. Cain said he wasn’t talking about privatization, rather each individual having a personal account option.
With Medicaid he suggested block grants to the states with no unfunded mandates. Discussing entitlement spending Cain said, “I am a compassionate person, but my compassion has a requirement to help people who help themselves.”
With energy he said he would encourage the development of flex fuels. During the the Q&A session he said that he doesn’t support subsidies (answering a question about ethanol subsidies), he didn’t say then how he’d encourage the development of flex fuels if he would subsidize it through a tax credit.
He then said he would have an energy plan that would be developed when he took office. That remark struck me as curious. Shouldn’t he be surrounding himself with policy advisors now, and develop at least a sketch of the plan now? With having no record what else do we have to evaluate him with other than his issue statements and speeches. We realize that plans will likely change, but he needs to give us an idea now of what the plan on on a vital national security and economic interest might be. It has to be more than “encouraging flex fuels” and saying we’re “addicted to oil.”
With immigration he said he’d secure the border, “I would build that moat and put those alligators in that moat,” referencing President Barack Obama’s recent comments on immigration in El Paso, TX. He said that the current laws need to be enforced, the current path to citizenship needs to be promoted, and in order to deal with the current illegal population he said he’d empower states to protect themselves and do what the federal government has been unwilling to do.
Wouldn’t a Cain administration be willing to do these things? This points to a federalist position that he holds that didn’t really come out in the speech until then. He said if “you want to solve a problem go to the source closest to the problem.”
With taxes he said he’d initially work towards zeroing out the capital gains tax and would make any tax cuts permanent because “uncertainty is killing economic growth in the country.” He then said he would work to replace the tax code with the Fair Tax.
During the Q&A time on the topic of abortion he said that “life begins at conception,” and said that not enough promotion is done for the options beyond abortion available to women facing unexpected pregnancies. He also said he’d nominate conservative judges which he defines as “someone who has a record of enforcing the Constitution.”
He was asked about what he believed the Biblical purposes for government was. Cain said, “to punish evil and encourage good.” He pointed out that he did say that government was not to do the good themselves, only to encourage it.
He was asked about gay marriage and in particular the federal Defense of Marriage Act. He said he would “never instruct the Department of Justice to not defend a law or sue states like Arizona.” He said nothing about a federal marriage amendment, and during the press conference afterwards he did say he would hire a qualified openly gay person in his administration. He also didn’t set up any parameters of what type of position that would be.
He was asked to explain his support of TARF and the constitutional basis for it. He said that he “didn’t look at it from this perspective” and had other reasons. Why not? He said he supported the concept because he felt something drastic needed to be done and he thought it would work. He said he did not support or agree with how it eventually was implemented.
It begs the question what did he expect from government intervention of this sort?
He said he doesn’t support raising the debt ceiling. He said that we need to pay priorities (interest on the debt, paying soldiers, Medicare, Social Security) and the rest needs to be on the table for possible cuts. Cain was also asked about the gold standard, and he said, “I agree that we need to move back to a standard, I don’t know if we can get back to gold.” He said in order to be able to place an external standard on the dollar and not keep printing money that we needed to cut the debt.
He cited lessons learned from his failed U.S. Senate race. He said he learned he needed to start early and hire good people early. He noted that this is why their bottom-up strategy is working, and cited the bump in the polls. Referencing the latest Iowa Caucus poll he asked, “didn’t I just tie Sarah Palin?” He said starting early helped them to focus on a grassroots strategy and enabled them to have town halls and listen to concerns.
Herman Cain is extremely likeable. He is a gifted communicator. That said, having listened to a number of his speeches I’m not learning anything new. Their full of clichés and I don’t believe that we’re getting much depth. I understand that he doesn’t have all of the answers, but the answers that he gives to questions he is asked and the speeches he gives are our only basis for evaluation. He simply doesn’t have a record to look at. So it would behoove Mr. Cain to go deeper and get past the sound bite friendly clichés. He has an opportunity to do that with the upcoming debate in New Hampshire.
You can watch the video of his press conference below given after his speech and the Q&A time:
Photo by Dave Davidson