Herman Cain comes to Alabama

The unconventional Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain gives a speech in Anniston, Alabama. Photo: Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star

OHATCHEE, Al. October 29, 2011 — Yesterday, the “Cain Train” bus toured through Alabama, led by the most unconventional Republican candidate in the 2012 presidential race, Herman Cain. The Southern born and raised businessman has been quite a phenomenon, puzzling the media with his simplicity and popularity. Now a front runner in the GOP field, Cain scored above President Obama in polls released earlier this month.

Cain drew a goodly and enthusiastic crowd in Anniston, Alabama at Ft. McClellan’s Cane Creek Golf Club on a chilly Friday morning. The event was sponsored by the Calhoun County Rainy Day Patriots Tea Party.

Audience members included those holding “Herman Cain 2012” signs, a fellow waving a sign that said “Abolish IRS,” and a black woman wearing a shirt that pictured Frederick Douglass and touted limited government and personal responsibility.

Cain spoke on the club front porch, wearing his signature gold tie and a black cowboy hat. I was able to watch the speech from behind Mr. Cain, amusedly noticing the blank podium. No teleprompter, script or notes for Herman Cain. The man speaks from the heart, and the former mathematician, ballistics analyst and business executive has his facts and figures down.

UNCONVENTIONAL: Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain speaks for the local Tea Party at the Cane Creek Golf Club in Anniston, AL. (Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star)

When the 28 minute speech ended, I happened to be one of the few inside the building just behind the porch door, so he immediately shook my hand and I thanked him for coming to Alabama. “My pleasure,” Cain replied.

Cain has since won the West Alabama straw poll, garnering 50.7%. The Alabama primary will take place on March 13, 2012, relatively late in the primary season.

Cain also has support from the former Republican candidate for Alabama agriculture commissioner Dale Peterson, who drew national attention last year with a popular campaign ad. “If we want to get this country turned around, the only real chance we have is Herman Cain,” Peterson told George Talbot.

Cain has never held elective office, and if elected president he actually wouldn’t be the first without that credential. Historically, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, William H. Taft, Herbert Hoover and Dwight D. Eisenhower were not elected to political office prior to being elected president.

Below are videos of Cain’s Anniston speech, followed by an interactive transcript (that is, I’ve linked to various sources or topics that Cain references):

Good morning!

Well like he said, I’m not supposed to be running, I’m not supposed to win, and I’m not supposed to be standing up here with this hat on, but I’m doing it. (APPLAUSE) Because this is who I am!

We have a saying in the Cain campaign: Let Herman be Herman. We also have a chief of staff by the name of Mark Block, and we say let Block be Block.

You want to know why? Because this campaign is about let people be people, and get the government off your backs. (APPLAUSE)

I want to thank you for coming out, delighted to be here. And the reason that I’m thrilled that you’re here is because you are the patriots that want to put this country on the right track. You are the patriots who know that this nation is on the wrong track. Our American dream has been hijacked. But the good news is we can take it back. We can take it back. (APPLAUSE)

We have become a nation of crises. We have an economic crisis. We have an energy crisis. We have an entitlement spending crisis. We’ve got a foggy foreign policy crisis. We’ve got an illegal immigration crisis. We’ve got a moral crisis. And the biggest crisis we have is a severe deficiency of leadership in the White House and in Washington, D.C. (APPLAUSE)

Now here’s how we get out of this mess: Fix stuff. (LAUGHTER, AMEN) Instead of just continuing to talk about it and trim around the edges. Fix stuff; that’s what businessmen do.

And no, I won’t satisfy the traditional model of what the experts are looking for. They’re looking for somebody who immediately had high name ID. I didn’t have immediate high name ID. When I announced in May of this year my name ID was about 21%. But I’ve got some good news for you – according to the latest Gallup poll, it’s now up to 80% thanks to y’all. (APPLAUSE) Oh yeah!

And no, I didn’t have a gajillion dollars. I don’t have a gajillion dollars and in order to be able to self-fund my campaign. But I’ve got some good news for you. Thanks to y’all, the contributions have gone up a lot in the last few weeks, so we’re going to be in there to win it, and we’re going to be in there to the end, thanks to you. (APPLAUSE)

And this is the one the political experts like to ding me on the most: “He has never held high political office before.” (APPLAUSE)

That is a good thing – you get it and they don’t!

The way we get out of this mess, folks, is we’ve got to fix stuff. My approach is the same that I’ve used in business - it’s the same that any successful person uses. They might use different words, but it’s the same.

First, make sure you’re working on the right problem. Assign the right priority. Surround yourself with good people. And number four, that will allow you to put together the right plans in order to solve problems. It has been said by some of the experts that I have no foreign policy experience. And the guy there now does? (LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE) At least I have foreign policy common sense.

And I have a foreign policy philosophy. My foreign policy philosophy is an extension of the Reagan philosophy, which was peace through strength. (APPLAUSE) The Cain philosophy is peace through strength and clarity. We must clarify who our friends are, clarify who our enemies are, and stop giving money to our enemies! (APPLAUSE) Clarity!

And the reason we need to clarify who our friends are is so we can tell the rest of the world who our friends are and that we are going to stand with our friends, starting with Israel. (GREAT APPLAUSE) They are our friends.

If I were president right now, I wouldn’t have gone to Iraq or drawn the troops out of Iraq without talking to the commanders on the ground. That doesn’t make any sense. And the other thing that doesn’t make any sense is that you’re going to pull the troops out and then you’re going to send an e-mail to the enemy letting them know what you’re going to do and when you’re going to do it. (LAUGHTER) You don’t tell the enemy what you’re going to do. That doesn’t make any sense.

How much experience do you need to know that you don’t tell your enemy the next move that you’re going to make? (LAUGHTER)

So I make a commitment to you that as president of the United States of America, I will not send our men and women in uniform into harm’s way unless it is clear what the mission is, it is clear what victory is, and it is clear that we are going to give our men and women everything they need to win because that’s what they do. Any time we get in a conflict, our men and women want to be in it to win it and we must give them what they need in order to do the job. (APPLAUSE)

This economy is on life support. That’s our biggest domestic problem. It’s on life support because this administration does not have a clue as to what is the economic engine of this economy. It is the business sector, not government. And you must put fuel in the engine that moves the economy.

This administration put a trillion dollars in the caboose, (LAUGHTER) and the economy didn’t grow. Now this administration wants to put another $450 billion in the caboose, and wants us to believe that this time, the caboose is going to push the engine up the hill. No it will not! It didn’t work for the trillion; it’s not going to work for the $450 billion. We need to put some fuel in the engine in order to drive this economy.

Here’s the Cain plan. First, throw out the current tax code. (GREAT APPLAUSE) Throw it out. That good man has a sign back there that says “Abolish the IRS”. Okay? (APPLAUSE) Now when we throw out the tax code and we put in 9-9-9, it will just be “S” – service. We won’t need an “IRS”. Put in 9-9-9.

9-9-9 replaces five taxes: Corporate income tax, personal income tax, capital gains tax, the payroll tax and the death tax.

ABOLISH IRS: A supporter holds up a sign during Herman Cain’s speech in Anniston, Alabama. (Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star)

Five taxes are replaced with, 9-9-9.

9% business flat tax - you’re allowed to deduct purchases, expense all capital, and deduct net exports, which means it puts our products on par with all of the products around the world. It makes our products much more competitive by allowing you to deduct net exports. (APPLAUSE)

Number two, 9% tax on personal income. You can deduct charitable contributions from that. Then you apply 9% national sales tax. When I was doing one of the debates – I think it was the debate before last – Senator Santorum said, “Well Herman’s plan can’t pass!”

And I said Senator, therein lies the difference between a politician and a businessman. You see, politicians want to propose stuff that they think they can pass. Businessmen propose stuff that fixes the problem. (APPLAUSE) That’s what we need to do. Let’s fix stuff!

In our last debate, I don’t know if you all noticed that I was attacked from every side. The reason I don’t have my jacket on is because we’re still trying to sew up all those bullet holes (LAUGHTER) from the last debate, when they all came after me and tried to attack my 9-9-9 plan. The good news is, none of those false accusations stuck. They didn’t stick because they were all false.

One of the ones that a couple of my opponents wanted to use was, “Do we want to give the government one more way to tax us, with a national sales tax?”

Well, look at it this way. The national sales tax is one more way for them to tax us, but we get rid of 82,000 ways in the current tax code. Which one would you rather have? One that you can see? Or all of those that you can’t see? (APPLAUSE)

Now when we developed 9-9-9, we had some criteria that we put down. We wanted it to be simple – 9-9-9. We wanted it to be transparent – have no hidden fines. We wanted it to be efficient. Right now under the old tax code, we spend $430 billion a year filing and filling out the forms. $430 billion a year!

Now you would be able to fit all of your 9-9-9 tax form on a sheet of paper front and back.

And we wanted it to be fair. Not according to Washington’s definition of fair, but according to Webster’s definition of fair, which is everybody gets treated the same. (APPLAUSE) How about that for a novel idea? Everybody the same! No loop holes!

Now the only special treatment is for those at or below the poverty level. The media wants you to believe that I changed the plan after I was criticized. No I didn’t. It was in the plan all along, they just didn’t read it. So 9-0-9, that’s not changing the plan. That’s for those at or below the poverty level.

And what I was saying in the debate the other night, “You all didn’t read the plan” – it proves that they didn’t read the plan, because that’s been in there all along and they didn’t get that far. They were too busy trying to figure out how they were going to attack the plan.

And so here we have a provision in there for that, but then it’s just that simple, folks.

Now here is the part about the 9-9-9 economic growth and jobs plan that really makes my opponents and liberals angry: You get it! And you like it. You understand it! They don’t want you to understand it. They want it to be so complex that you don’t understand it so they can pass some more sneak-a-taxes – you know, the ones that we get taxed and we never know what they did to us until after they did it to us? (LAUGHTER)

And so that would get our economy going. We’ve had it scored statically and dynamically. And the good news about it is all those false attacks did not stick.

And one of the most noted economists in the world, Dr. Art Laffer, wrote an article that was published in Wall Street Journal last week that basically confirmed everything we had been saying, and I didn’t pay him to do that. He did his own independent analysis and confirmed that 9-9-9 is something that is a strong plan and is pro-growth.

This is how we get this economy going. And when we get the economy growing faster than it is now which is almost nothing – they reported that last quarter it grew at 2.5% - that’s doubling the 1.5 from the previous quarter, but it’s still a long way away from the 10% that the Chinese economy is growing – and we’ve got to get that number up a lot more, and that’s why we’re going to be able to pass 9-9-9 within the first 90 days of my administration.

At the same time we’re doing that, we’ve got to bring down costs. So we’ve got revenues going up, we’ve got costs going down, and guess what? We’ll be able to present a balanced fiscal year budget, and if we present a balanced fiscal year budget, then we can stop adding to the national debt of $14 trillion. That’s how you start to bring it down. (APPLAUSE)

The national debt is what’s killing our currency – and all the inflation that’s messing up our currency. In 1988, when I was at Godfather’s Pizza as president and CEO, the exchange rate for one U.S. dollar versus a Canadian dollar was you needed $1.20 to get one U.S. dollar. Today, you need $1.20 to get one Canadian dollar. What’s wrong with that picture?

What’s wrong with that picture is that our money is losing its value, and the only way to reverse that is by bringing down the national debt by passing balanced, annual budgets such that we can begin to bring it down.

And I believe that we can do that, because one of the things that I’m going to do as president is across the board 10% cut of every federal agency with an executive order. (APPLAUSE) And that’s just a start.

Then in every agency, the newly appointed cabinet heads will now have the responsibility of finding me another 10%, by looking at various programs that need to be eliminated, that need to be phased out, shut down or whatever the case may be.

When I give this message inside the beltway, the skeptics will say, “Well you know, it’s not that easy to fire federal workers.” Who said anything about firing federal workers? I’m going to give them a choice. (LAUGHTER) Early retirement, or reassignment. (LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE) They say, “Well where are you going to reassign them?” I understand that there’s an empty building in Nome, Alaska. (LAUGHTER) It’s their choice.

Folks…this is what businessmen do. You cut and you get rid of stuff that doesn’t need to be there. So all of the various – whether we’re talking about illegal immigration, the approach is the same. I start out with working on the right problem.

And different from my opponents, I’m not going everything including the kitchen sink in one great big bill that’s going to confuse people. No, the 9-9-9 plan is a separate plan, it fits on a tri-fold. We’re going to have the foreign policy plan – the whole approach on the tri-fold.

Our approach to illegal immigration – real simple. It’s not one problem, it’s four. We’ve got to secure the border for real, we’ve got to promote the path to citizenship that’s already there, we’ve got to enforce the laws that are already there, and here’s the bold idea – that people say that I’m being to bold – in order to enforce the laws that are already there and deal with the illegals that are already here, empower the states to do what they want to do with the illegals that are already here. (APPLAUSE)

That’s how we fix the problem. It’s the approach that matters. You’ve got to make sure you’re working on the right problem. And sometimes the problem is problems, plural –and you’ve got to know that. So that’s how we’re going to get these crises fixed, folks.

Now here’s what I need you to do to help make this happen, to take back the American Dream.

First, stay informed. There’s a lot of garbage out there. There’s a lot of false information out there. You’ve got to remain informed. If you read something that you’re not quite sure – go find a second source, in order to stay properly informed. Because you see, stupid people are running America (LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE) and we’ve got to out-vote them. I was criticized for that – “you shouldn’t call people stupid” – Why? They’re stupid. They don’t get it.

Secondly, stay involved. The fact that you are here today says that you are involved, that you care, that you are patriots, and you’re looking for leadership. You’re looking for solutions and not more rhetoric about what we need to do.

I just saw a survey the other day that said that approximately 76% of the American people feel that this nation is on the wrong track, and it is on the wrong track, and you’re looking for somebody to help get it back on the right track. (APPLAUSE)

I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I know what all of the problems are, and I have all of the questions. That’s what leaders do. That’s how I was able to succeed in business for over 40 years. Stay involved, do what you can do. And as the great philosopher Emeril Lagasse says, “Kick it up a notch!” (APPLAUSE)

Whatever you’re doing, kick it up a notch. Because you see, if conservatives get out and vote and don’t stay home, if the Christians and evangelicals get out and vote, if those independents and moderates in their right mind get out and vote, we win! We’ve got the numbers on our side. And that’s why I encourage you to stay involved – and get involved.

Thirdly, stay inspired. I wouldn’t be running if I didn’t believe that we could take back our government. I wouldn’t be running if I didn’t believe that I’m going to get the Republican nomination to become president of the United States of America. I wouldn’t be running – because I am inspired on this journey, and you’ve got to believe that we can do this. Because it starts with believing that we can do this.

How do you think the founding fathers started this country? Do you think they took a poll and everybody said “Yes”? (LAUGHTER) No! It took a few believers in the Declaration of Independence, a few believers in liberty – that they said we’re going to create this new nation with this new model. And they did! But they had to believe it in order to make it happen.

I wouldn’t be running if I didn’t believe it folks. I ran into a gentleman at the airport last night when we were leaving wherever we were leaving – I don’t even know where we left last night – where were we? Arkansas. Right next door; had a great event over there. And a guy comes in and says, “Hi Mr. Cain, nice to meet you,” – and he said, “There’s talk that you’re not in this to win it.” I said, “Then they don’t know me.” And he said, “Well then I’m going to send you some money,” and I said, “Now you’re talking.” (LAUGHTER)

I’m in it to win it, folks. And do you know that a few months ago the experts thought that I was ready to shut this campaign down? You see, they didn’t know what you know and what I know. They discovered it at the Florida straw poll, when we won by a 2 to 1 margin over Perry and Romney. (APPLAUSE)

Here’s what some of them are finally figuring out. We already knew it, because I’ve been traveling across this country and visiting states for over a year. The voice of the people is more powerful than the voice of the media. You’re not going to let the media tell you who is going to be your next president.

Number two, message is more important than money. (APPLAUSE) Message is what is resonating with the American people. So stay inspired; believe that we can do this.

It was back in 1999 that I discovered that I was supposed to do something bold with the rest of my life, I just didn’t know what it was supposed to be. It was in 1999 that my first grandchild was born. And when I first looked into that little face, the first thought that went through my mind wasn’t “What do I do to make sure she gets a good education? What do I do to make sure that she has the things that she needs and grow up right?” and all of that. No, the first thought that went through my mind: “So help me God.”

It was what do I do to make this a better nation and a better world. That was twelve years ago, and I didn’t know that answer then. And then as my life unfolded, in 2006 I was diagnosed with stage four cancer. Stage four cancer, and I had to ask a surgeon, “Well what is that?” and she “That’s as bad as it can get”. So I decided to get a second opinion. And he said, “It’s as bad as it gets.”

This is in 2006. And then when I was diagnosed, I sat down and talked to the surgeon who was going to remove 30% of my colon and 70% of my liver. I said, “What are my chances, Doc?” he said, “You’ve got about a 30% chance of survival.” “30% chance? That means I’ve got a 70% chance that I’m not going to make it,” he said “Yes.”

Right then I said to the surgeon, “I know which group I’m going to be in. I’m going to be in that 30% group, and you’re going to have another success story to talk about.” And we’ve been talking about it for five years now, totally cancer free! (APPLAUSE) Believe!

I believed that I could beat cancer, and I did – with my faith, and the ability to take advantage of the best health care in the world. We don’t have a health care problem in America, we’ve got a health care cost problem. And the way to fix that cost problem is we’ve got to start by repealing Obamacare (APPLAUSE) because it kills health care in America.

We’re going in the wrong direction, working on the wrong problem. Just like I believed that I could beat cancer, we can take this nation back. And you’ve got to believe because of that, I had to do a lot of praying and soul searching.

I said, “God, I know I’m not supposed to be here, why did you save my head?” And as things continued to unfold and unfold and unfold in my life, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that this was the journey that I was supposed to be on. And whenever I make a decision like that in my life, I don’t look back.

That’s why I am convinced that I’m on the right road. I know that I have the backing and the support of people like you all over this country, and that the American people – this sleeping giant called “We the People” – it has awakened, and it’s not going back to sleep.

I am also inspired by the words of one of our greatest presidents, Ronald Reagan. President Reagan used to describe this nation as “that shining city on a hill” because all of the rest of the world looked up to America despite our challenges.

And in the last three years that shining city on a hill has slid down to the side of the hill side because of the weakening of our economy, the weakening of our military, and the weakening of the respect that we had in the world.

IN IT TO WIN IT: Herman Cain speaks in Anniston, Alabama. (Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star)

And my pledge to you, if you give me the privilege of getting the Republican nomination, and going on to become president of the United States of America, together we will put “united” back in the United States of America, we will move that shining city on a hill back to the top of the hill where it belongs.

And I will never apologize for the greatness of the United States of America.

Thank you very much.


Amanda Read is an unconventional scholar, a Southerner without an accent, a Christian who hasn’t been a churchgoer in 17 years and a college student who lives with eight younger siblings. A writer and artist, she blogs at www.amandaread.com and is the author of the historical drama screenplay The Crusading Chemist. Amanda is majoring in history and minoring in political science at Troy University.

Keep up with her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AmandaChristineRead and Twitter:

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Amanda Read

Amanda Read is a columnist for the Communities at The Washington Times. Trained as a historian, skilled as a writer, and aspiring to be a filmmaker, Amanda investigates the ideas behind contemporary culture and politics. A professional writer and researcher, she is also a Christian homeschool graduate, unconventional college graduate, military daughter, and eldest of the nine Read children at Fair Hills Farm. Find more of her work at www.amandaread.com

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