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CNN "American Morning" - Transcript

Interview

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VELSHI: Amy Kremer said people in the Tea Party express are laser-focused on one thing right now: the economy. More specifically, jobs.

And joining us right now is one of the candidates who will try to convince the Tea Party tonight, 2012 presidential candidate, Herman Cain.

Mr. Cain, welcome. Thank you for being here.

HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks, Ali. My pleasure.

VELSHI: You are -- have been a consistent force in this race. Your numbers low, but consistent.

CAIN: Yes.

VELSHI: There have been polls that have indicated that the people who like you really like you.

CAIN: They love me.

VELSHI: They love you.

CAIN: Because they love my message. That's the difference.

VELSHI: But you need more than 5 percent to love you.

CAIN: And we will get it. You know, the polls are fine. But, you know, like you indicated earlier, Michele Bachmann was the flavor of the week a few weeks ago.

VELSHI: Right.

CAIN: Now, Rick Perry is the flavor of the week. My supporters -- they are consistent, and they don't defect. So, we are going to continue to move up. And the more people find out about my nine-nine- nine economic growth and jobs plan, the more they are going to be attracted to what I'm talking about, because that is a difference maker.

VELSHI: Give me the short pitch on that.

CAIN: Short pitch on that is: throw out the existing tax code and replace it with a structure that imposes a 9 percent tax on corporate profits.

VELSHI: Right.

CAIN: And 9 percent tax on personal income, and 9 percent national sales tax. That eliminates the payroll tax. It eliminates the death tax. And it also eliminates the capital gains tax. And it eliminates all of the other taxes that muddle up the thing.

VELSHI: But that depends on everybody paying it. I think we'd all love to pay lower taxes. But a lot of people in this country don't pay taxes.

CAIN: That's right. A lot of people in this country don't pay taxes and the people that are at the very lowest, they still are not going to be hit that hard, because, remember, it's three components. They only have to worry about that one.

VELSHI: Right.

CAIN: This way, we expand the base and we bring in revenue that we don't get now in order to generate it. And now, the good news is, once you put that structure in, not only is revenue neutral, it then provides certainty to the business community which is what's holding this economy back.

VELSHI: We are one of the few countries that doesn't have a value added national sales tax. A lot of people have suggested that as an idea.

Let me ask you something else. The Tea Party --

CAIN: Yes?

VELSHI: -- there be a lot of people watching this debate who are not Tea Party members or not Tea Party followers. To them, it's noise and it's politics.

You said some time ago something that was interesting. You said of those who have said that the Tea Party has racist elements -- you said, no one would know it better in this race than you. And I believe that. That you would know if there was racism.

CAIN: Right.

VELSHI: Do we have the sound of that we can just play?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAIN: I would know racism if I saw it. I do not see it, nor have I experienced it, in the Tea Party movement. It is just an attempt to discourage people from participating in a movement that many people are still in denial on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: Now, we'd like to put this all behind us and get on to the issue of jobs. But I have been at a couple of Tea Party rallies where I have seen those placards of President Obama with a bone through his nose and a loincloth, and things that are definitely overtly racist. So, I'd believe you more if you didn't say you have never seen it. That it doesn't exist in the movement.

CAIN: It doesn't exist in the movement. You may have seen an isolated case of those kinds of things.

VELSHI: We have seen them in a number of places.

CAIN: Right. You've seen those. But what I'm saying is, those are isolated, Ali. I started speaking at Tea Party rallies in 2009, April 15th, 2009, before it was cool.

VELSHI: Right.

CAIN: The Tea Party people have three objectives. Amy talked about it this morning. You may have seen those. As long as you keep showing them, some people will think that represents it.

It does not represent them. It does not represent them.

VELSHI: OK. Fair enough.

CAIN: It does not represent the majority of the people that are part of this.

VELSHI: Let me broaden it out then. How do you, when the issue is going to be the economy and jobs in particular, how do Tea Partiers generally muddle through that noise, a lot of the social issues that do not attract fiscal conservatives? How do you muddle through that and get things like the nine-nine-nine? Get things like Jon Huntsman's jobs plan, which he is trying to put out that was endorsed by the "Wall Street Journal"? Get things like the 59-point plan that Mitt Romney put out?

CAIN: Right.

VELSHI: How do you get the discussion there and not have it taken back to these issues that seem ugly to some Americans?

CAIN: With all due respect, Ali, you guys are doing that.

VELSHI: We do it because our cameras find something and something happens.

CAIN: All right.

VELSHI: We didn't draw the posters.

CAIN: No, no, no. But you keep replaying the poster. I was just at a Tea Party event up in Pennsylvania this last weekend. No posters. No racial overtones.

You want to know why? People like Amy Kremer and people like Jenny Beth Martin and other leaders of the Tea Party movement have said cease and desist, and they did. So, you don't see that stuff anymore. That stuff is way old.

If you go to another Tea Party event, bring it to my attention, because I do not see it. They don't do that stuff anymore.

VELSHI: All right. Are you -- one of the things that happened in the last several months, which maybe the Tea Party will come to regret over time, is the remarkable emphasis that was put on the debt ceiling debate --

CAIN: Right.

VELSHI: -- as opposed to the concentration on jobs. What if we had seen that kind of passion, that kind of energy, that kind of deadline, that kind of rhetoric, devoted to solving the jobs problem?

CAIN: The emphasis on not raising the debt ceiling, I agree with not raising the debt ceiling. Here's why, because if you continue to raise it, it's never going to stop. Secondly, we don't have a revenue problem in Washington, D.C. We have a spending problem.

VELSHI: But then why do you want to fix the tax code?

CAIN: Because --

VELSH: Why do you want to do the nine-nine-nine if we don't have revenue problem? That's a solution to a revenue problem.

CAIN: I want to not only get the same amount of revenue that we have now, but I want to boost that revenue. We need to boost the economy. And the biggest thing that's going to do --

(CROSSTALK)

VELSHI: Was that an admission that we have a bit of a revenue problem if you are saying you want to boost the revenue?

CAIN: No, it's not. We have a spending problem. Spending has increased exponentially in the last 30 months.

Revenue was just fine. It hasn't increased. Why? Because the engine of economic growth is the business sector. And there has been no fuel put in the engine.

That's what we need to do. That's what my nine-nine-nine plan would do.

VELSHI: Are you getting a boost at it tonight you think?

CAIN: Yes, I am going to get a boost at it tonight.

VELSHI: All right. We're going to --

CAIN: You want to know why? Let me tell you why -- because Herman Cain is still the only problem solver, nonpolitician in the group. And the American people are saying, we want somebody other than a politician.

VELSHI: We're going to look forward to watching you tonight. Thanks for coming and talking to us.

CAIN: It's a pleasure, Ali. Love it.

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