Transcript of Herman Cain on CBS’ “Face the Nation”

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(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Schieffer: And good morning again Herman Cain is in the studio with us again this morning with a big smile on his face and no wonder. You are now leading, Mr. Cain, in two national polls this week including the CBS News/New York Times poll and here is the new Des Moines Register poll just out this morning from Iowa where the first contest takes place in January. Low and behold you are basically in a statistical tie with Mitt Romney. You’ve got 23 percent, he’s one point behind. Then only other candidate in double digits is Ron Paul with 12 percent. I guess the first question I have to ask you is why do you believe you’re doing so well.

Cain: I believe that I’m doing so well because I’m connecting with the people. One of the other misperceptions about my campaign is that we just started a few months ago right after I announced in May. I’ve actually been connecting with people Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida for over a year even before I made the decision to run so my message is connecting and people are connecting with me and the specific solutions I’m putting on the table.

Schieffer: Do you think it has anything to do with maybe Republicans just don’t like Mitt Romney? Maybe they think he has a good record but that he just doesn’t excite them? Do you think that has anything to do with it?

Cain: I don’t think that’s the driving force. The last couple of days I’ve given a lot of speeches as you can probably tell from my voice but the reaction in terms of how people have responded to my speeches talking about specific solutions relative to the economy specific things that I would do differently as it relates to this president and this administration, they are generally enthused about what I’m saying and how I’m saying it. Americans want to feel proud again and they don’t feel that pride right now.

Schieffer: You know, although people like you, the same polls also show that a majority of Americans, a pretty substantial majority, really don’t like your trademark 999 plan. Your proposal to junk the current tax code and impose this nine percent sales, nine percent income tax, nine percent corporate tax…you’ve already made a change in it saying it ought to be 909 so that poor people don’t have to pay this additional tax, but do you think you’re just going to have to go back to the drawing board on this?

Cain: Absolutely not. And one correction, Bob. I didn’t make a change to it, 909, it was already in the analysis and it was misreported that I changed it. It’s just that people who were trying to attack it didn’t read the entire analysis.

Schieffer; But it said nine. It said 999.

Cain: Right.

Schieffer: But now you say it’s 909.

Cain: No. what we’re saying is we’ve always had a provision in the revenue that we collect to be able to allow people at or below the poverty level to pay zero on their income if they’re at or below the poverty level so we’re not modifying it.

Schieffer: Correct me if I’m wrong. Did you not refer to it as 909?

Cain: Just the poverty piece but not the entire plan. The entire plan is 999.

Schieffer: Isn’t it still going to cause poor people, middle income people, to pay more taxes than they used to pay because you have a sales tax? People go to the Wal-Mart or the Target to buy school clothes for the kids with a nine percent sales tax.

Cain: Here’s where we have some more educating to do. The cost of goods will actually go down because the way 999 works is that we take out the invisible embedded taxes so essentially what will happen is the embedded taxes, which have been estimated by many economists, on everything we buy in this country to be anywhere from 30-40 percent to the cost of the product. A loaf of bread, 30-40 percent embedded taxes. We take that out in that first nine by the way it works and then they will essentially be paying that nine percent. We have some more educating of the public and this is why some people maybe don’t like it yet. But we would rather take on the task of explaining it because it’s the right thing to do.

Schieffer: And you still believe and maintain it is fair to put the same tax on groceries and the same tax on medicine for poor people as for rich people?

Cain: Yes because the cost of those items are going to go down. That’s the hardest part to sell but we’re willing to take on that fight.

Schieffer: I want to task you about the ad that we just saw at the beginning of this broadcast. I just want to show you, and I’ll preface that by saying the person doing the talking here is your campaign manager, Mark Block.

Cain: Chief of Staff, yes.

Schieffer: Just listen.

CLIP

Schieffer: Mr. Cain, I just have to ask you what is the point of that? Having a man smoke a cigarette in a television commercial?

Cain: One of the themes within this campaign is let Herman be Herman. Mark Block is a smoker and we say let Mark be Mark. That’s all we’re trying to say because we believe let people be people. He doesn’t deny that he’s a smoker. This isn’t trying.

Schieffer: Are you a smoker?

Cain: No, I’m not a smoker. But I don’t have a problem if that’s his choice. So let Herman be Herman, let Mark be Mark, let people be people. This wasn’t intended to send any subliminal signal whatsoever.

Schieffer: But it does. It sends a signal that it’s cool to smoke.

Cain: No it does not. Mark Block smokes. That’s all that ad says. We weren’t trying to say it’s cool to smoke. You have a lot of people in this country that smoke. But what I respect about Mark as a smoker, who is my chief of staff, he never smokes around me or smokes around anyone else. He goes outside.

Schieffer: Well, he smokes on television.

Cain: Well he smokes on television but that was no other subliminal message.

Schieffer: Was it meant to be funny?

Cain: It was meant to be informative. If they listen to the message where he said, ‘America has never seen another candidate like Herman Cain,’ that was the main point of it. And the bit on the end we didn’t know whether it was going to be funny to some people. Whether they were going to ignore it or whatever the case may be.

Schieffer: Let me just tell you, it’s not funny to me. I am a cancer survivor like you. I had cancer that was smoking related. I don’t think it serves the country well. And this is an editorial opinion here to be showing someone smoking a cigarette. You are the front runner now and it seems to me that as the frontrunner you would have a responsibility not to take that kind of a tone here. I would suggest that perhaps as the frontrunner you’d want to raise the level of the campaign.

Cain: We will do that, Bob. And I do respect your objection to the ad. And about 30 percent of the feedback was very similar to yours. It was not intended to offend anyone and being a cancer survivor myself, I am sensitive to that sort of thing.

Schieffer: Would you take the ad down?

Cain: Well its’ on the internet. We didn’t run it on TV.

Schieffer: Well, why don’t you take it off the internet.

Cain: It’s impossible to do now. Once you put it on the internet, it goes viral. We could take it off our website, but there are other sites that have already picked it up. It’s nearly impossible to erase that ad from the internet.

Schieffer: Have you ever thought of just saying to young people don’t smoke? Four hundred thousand people in America die every year from smoking related…

Cain: I will have no problem saying that.

Schieffer: Well say it now.

Cain: Young people of America, all people, do not smoke. It is hazardous and it is dangerous to your health. Don’t smoke. I’ve never smoked and I’ve encouraged people not to smoke.

Schieffer: And it’s not a cool thing to do.

Cain: It’s not a cool thing to do. And that’s not what I was trying to say. Smoking is not a cool thing to do.

Schieffer: Alright. You talked some about the missteps you’ve made in the campaigning. I wasn’t to clear up just a couple of things to make sure your position is on the record. You talked about at one point talking about immigration, you talked about sealing off the border with an electric fence that had barbed wire on the top and with a sign on it that said ‘this fence can kill you.’ You said that. Then you went on ‘Meet the Press’ and told David Gregory, ‘listen I was just kidding. Look that was just a joke.’ But then the next day you said well an electric fence is part of it. So I want to ask you do you think part of solving this problem is putting an electric fence on the border?

Cain: I believe that solving the illegal immigration problem means solving four problems. First, secure the border for real. There will be a part of it secured with a fence, not necessarily electric but a fence. Another part with technology and another part with troops because of some of the areas that are so dangerous. So it’ll be a combination of the three. And yes, I said that was an over exaggeration. Secondly, we’ve got to promote a path to citizenship that’s already here. We’ve got to enforce the laws that are already here and we’ve got to empower the states to do what the federal government is not doing. I was in Alabama yesterday they passed some laws and now the Justice Department, the Obama administration is coming down on them just like they came down on Arizona. I don’t agree with that. I believe that the actions that Alabama took and that Arizona took to try to defend themselves and to do something about this is the right thing to do.

Schieffer: You also said at some point that you might want to back that fence up with moat and fill it with alligators. Was that a joke too?

Cain: That was totally in jest, Bob. Some people are getting used to my sense of humor and as I get more attention I will tone down this sense of humor until I become president because America needs to get a sense of humor.

Schieffer: Alright because that’d be pretty expensive, by the way.

Cain: It probably would.

Schieffer: You have also said stated several positions on abortion. I want to get this settled for you once and for all. Where do you stand on the issue that is so important for so many Americans? At one point you said you were against abortion period, but at another point said in cases of rape, incest, and when the life of the mother is at stake, you would leave that to the families to decide. So is that your position? In other words, that you’re pro-life with the exception of rape, incest, and when the health of the mother is at stake?

Cain: I am pro-life from conception, period. And if people look at many speeches that I have given over the years, that has and will still be my position.

Schieffer: But talk about those exceptions.

Cain: Pro-life from conception period. That piece that was pulled out was taken totally out of context when we were talking about those exceptions.

Schieffer: So in other words you would not even believe in abortion if rape, incest, or the health of the mother was involved?

Cain: Correct. That’s my position

Schieffer: That is now your position. Alright.

Cain: Thanks for helping me clear that up

Schieffer: I wanted to ask you since we’re on the subject of abortion there was one point back there when the question of Planned Parenthood came up and you said that it was not Planned Parenthood it was really ‘planned genocide’ because you said Planned Parenthood was trying to put all these centers into the black communities because they wanted to kill black babies before they were born. Do you still stand by that?

Cain: Yes I still stand by that.

Schieffer: Do you have any proof that that was the objective of Planned Parenthood?

Cain: If people go back and look at the history and look at Margaret Sanger’s own words that’s exactly where that came from. Look up the history. So if you go back and look up the history, look at where most of them were built. Seventy five percent of those facilities were built in the black community and Margaret Sanger’s own words. She didn’t use the word genocide but she did talk about preventing the increasing number of poor blacks in this country by preventing black babies from being born.

Schieffer: So you would not see any advantage to having young mothers get counsel and advice that Planned Parenthood could give them? I mean with some many black babies born out of wedlock.

Cain: There are a lot of centers that offer sincere counseling rather than Planned Parenthood claiming to be those centers when in fact they would rather for the young lady to come in and say they want to get an abortion and facilitate that. Plenty of centers out there genuinely want to do that. What I’m saying is Planned Parenthood isn’t sincere about wanting to try to counsel them not to have abortions.

Schieffer: Let’s talk a little bit about foreign policy that hasn’t come up much in the campaign. What do you consider the most pressing foreign policy problem confronting the United States today?

Cain: I think the most pressing foreign policy problem we have is lack of clarity relative to our relationship with other countries around the world. Let’s take Afghanistan. Twelve Americans were killed last week and then a few days earlier, the president said if America gets into a fight or some sort of a war with Pakistan, then Afghanistan is going to side with Pakistan. That lacks clarity, Bob. And if you take every relationship we have in the world, it lacks clarity. Take Iraq, similarly. For the president to announce that we’re going to do a drawdown of the troops by a date certain, that just leaves a power vacuum in Iraq and that’s not clear about why we’re there and it also leaves it unclear as to how we’re going to deal with other nations.

Schieffer: But Mr. Cain it was George Bush who struck the deal that said we’d have the troops out by the end of this year. It was George Bush who struck the deal.

Cain: Well Bob that’s fine but a responsible commander in chief would go to the commanders on the ground and ask should we continue with this or should we modify it? President Obama changed a lot of other things that Bush started so I don’t believe he was doing it because it was the Bush doctrine.

Schieffer: But do you think it was irresponsible of George Bush to set a date certain as he did?

Cain: It was irresponsible for George Bush to set a date certain but I believe that the commander in chief, if you have a new president, must reevaluate the situation and the biggest thing that I would do differently is listen to the commanders on the ground. I’m not convinced that the commanders on the ground agree with that strategy.

Schieffer: Mr. Cain we want to thank you for being here today, for answering the questions that I asked you. I appreciate it. Hope you’ll come back to see us.

Cain: It’s my pleasure

Schieffer: We wish you well down the trail.

Related Topics: 2012 Elections, News, Republican Party, Sunday Shows, The Page, White House

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