LAS VEGAS, NEVADA–Businessman Herman Cain told attendees at the Western Republican Leadership Conference on Wednesday that they needed to “kick it up a notch” in rallying to defeat President Obama next fall. Cain, however, is about to enter a critical month in which he will have to ramp up his organization, message and campaign to maintain his front-runner status that exemplifies the primary electorate’s disgust with Washington and distrust of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s conservative credentials.
In a rousing speech that had elderly attendees in the audience repeatedly saying “Amen!” and pumping their fists in the air in approval of Cain’s message, the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO modified his “9-9-9” plan, teased his “opportunity zones” plan that he will unveil Friday in Detroit, explicitly encouraged Christians to go to the polls and continued his assault on Washington’s politics-as-usual culture that both parties have been guilty of, much to the dismay of the voting public.
Cain said that under his “9-9-9” plan, charitable contributions would qualify for a deduction because it is consistent with his belief that organizations that are “closest to the community” do the most good.
After Texas Gov. Rick Perry unveils his economic and tax plan next week, it will be interesting to see if Cain modifies his “9-9-9” plan even more.
Cain has sold himself to voters as the anti-politician, but he may be tempted to be one by replacing the nine percent national consumption tax with perhaps a nine percent payroll tax that does not have a cap, as conservative economist Steve Moore has suggested in various interviews recently.
Cain also said that critics who have said the “9-9-9” plan is regressive are wrong and that his “opportunity zones” will prove his critics wrong. Cain said he knew all along that his “9-9-9” plan was not regressive but has “not told them yet” about the full details of the plan, which he will discuss on Friday.
When berating Washington insiders and lobbyists for having a “vested interest in the current tax code” Cain said that it must be “driving them crazy that the public is catching on” to Washington’s shenanigans and the simplicity of his own tax plan.
Cain went further, saying that lobbyists and “a lot of the people in the Beltway” do not want his tax reforms to pass and said he looked forward to the day when lobbyists get real jobs.
Cain also touched upon his Baptist faith and urged Christians to go to the polls. “Come on Christians, help us save the nation,” he said. “And I am one.”
Cain added: “We got 65 million Christians in this country, only half are registered, and only half of them vote.”
Conventional wisdom is that election 2012 will be a polarizing “base” election in which the candidate that best motivates his base will win the election.
By encouraging Christians to vote, Cain is not only appealing to religious voters in Iowa and the South, but also making the argument that, like George W. Bush in 2004, he will be the candidate best positioned to ensure that the Christian base of the GOP does not stay home on election night.
It is easy to read between the lines.
To date, Cain has contrasted himself from Romney by painting the former Massachusetts Gov. as “Wall Street” and himself as “Main Street.”
Cain’s highlighting of his Christian faith may be another way for Cain to further contrast himself with Romney.
Or, it could also solidify his status as a potential running mate who delivers Evangelicals should Romney become the nominee.
On a taped appearance on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight,” which aired Wednesday, Cain told host Piers Morgan that the two candidates he respects the most are Mitt Romney and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.