After a week in which members of the Congressional Black Caucus expressed their displeasure at President Obama, Herman Cain, a black businessman who has surged in the polls after a surprising and convincing win in Florida’s Presidential 5 GOP Straw Poll, said Democrats have “brainwashed” African-American voters, and that he could not support Texas Gov. Rick Perry if he were the nominee today in part because of Perry’s soft stance on illegal immigration.
When asked by Wolf Blitzer on CNN’s “The Situation Room” why Republicans have trouble with African-American voters, Cain said that many “African-Americans have been brainwashed into not being open-minded, not even considering a conservative point of view.”
“I have received some of that same vitriol simply because I am running for the Republican nomination as a conservative,” said Cain. “So it’s just brainwashing people and people not being open-minded, pure and simple.”
When pressed on his “strong” words in talking about African-Americans, Cain said, “For two-thirds of them, Wolf, that is the case.”
Cain said the “good news is” that he happens to believe that “a third to 50% of the black Americans in this country” are “open-minded.”
“I meet them every day,” said Cain. “They stop me in the airport.”
Cain said that he believes a third of African-Americans would vote for him, based on his own anecdotal feedback.
“Now, they won’t be voting for me because I’m black,” Cain said. “They’ll be voting for me because of my policies and because of what I’m offering to fix this economy, starting with, as you know, my 9-9-9 plan.”
Cain reiterated his point that “this whole notion that all black Americans are necessarily going to stay and vote Democrat and vote for Obama, that’s simply not true.”
In the same interview, Cain said that as of today, he could not support Texas Gov. Rick Perry if Perry got the nomination for a myriad of reasons, and highlighted Perry’s weakness illegal
Perry’s campaign knows that his record on immigration is a hurdle it will have to jump over if Perry is to get the Republican nomination.
Earlier, an interview in which Perry expressed regret at referring to those opposed to giving instate tuition rates to illegal immigrants as “heartless” was released.
Perry’s stumbles on immigration gave Cain the opening to revive his campaign. In fact, a new poll of Florida Republicans found that Perry’s favorability numbers plummeted after his poor debate performance.
According to the poll, 63% of Florida Republicans had a favorable view of Perry before the debate, while only 23% had an unfavorable view of him. In the two days after the debate, only 48% of Florida Republicans viewed Perry favorably, while 36% viewed him unfavorably.
Perry has attracted considerable support from voters who identify with the Tea Party movement. These are the same voters that are likely to be drawn to Cain.
Perry’s challenge going forward will be to convince voters that he is conservative enough in early primary states such as South Carolina and Iowa, two states in which primary voters are even more conservative on immigration than Florida’s Republicans who rejected him after the debate.
If Perry fails to make the case, Cain is hoping to be a beneficiary of the beleaguered candidate’s misfortune.