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CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript

Interview

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WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Herman Cain is joining us from Atlanta.

Mr. Cain, thanks very much for coming in.

HERMAN CAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: You are doing well in the polls right now. But let me specifically ask you about the African-American community. Why is the Republican Party basically poison for so many African-Americans?

CAIN: Because 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. So it's just brainwashing and people not being open minded, pure and simple.

BLITZER: That's a strong word to talk about your fellow African- Americans, brainwashed?

CAIN: For two-thirds of them, Wolf, that is the case. Now the good news is I happen to believe that a third to 50 percent of the black Americans in this country, they are open minded. I meet them every day. They stop me in the airport. And so this whole notion that all black Americans are necessarily going to stay and vote Democrat, vote for Obama, that is simply not true. More and more black Americans are thinking for themselves, and that's a good thing.

BLITZER: You suggested, correct me if I'm wrong, that if you were the Republican nominee, you think a third of African-Americans would vote for you?

CAIN: I do believe a third would vote for me based upon my own anecdotal feedback. Now they won't be voting for me because I'm black. 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 999 plan. That's what they're responding to.

BLITZER: Let's talk about some of the issues like health care, for example. Could you support Mitt Romney, who when he was governor of Massachusetts supported a mandate for health care?

CAIN: No, I could not. I do not support a government mandate for health care. I don't support the mandate that's in Obamacare. I wouldn't have supported a mandate that was in Romney care. No. I happen to believe that there are better market-driven, patient- centered solutions out there that were not even considered. That's the approach that I would take in order to first, repeal Obamacare, and then let the market determine and let patients and doctors determine what is best for the patient and the doctor.

BLITZER: So what I hear you saying is, correct me if I'm wrong, once again, if he were the Republican nominee, you wouldn't be able to support him?

CAIN: Well, I wouldn't say that I wouldn't be able to report (sic) him, because he has said that his first order of business would be to repeal Obamacare. If he stuck to that commitment, I could support him. But if in any way he wanted to compromise, and go for a health care mandate, I couldn't support him. But I believe that he is backed off that. And he is saying that he would repeal Obamacare.

BLITZER: If you were to repeal Obamacare, there are right now there are 50 million uninsured people in the United States. They'll get insurance under what you call Obama care. What you would do with those 50 million, if you repealed the health care reform law?

CAIN: First of all, Wolf, they are not going to be without health care. Everybody in this country will get health care. Hospitals cannot turn you away. If we look at the early rollout of Obamacare, more and more people are becoming uninsured. More and more companies are being forced to drop their health care coverage because Obamacare is just that bad.

Look at the fact that over 1300 companies asked for a waiver because when they look at the details of Obamacare, they're better off to either stay with what they have, if they can get a waiver. Or they're going to put everybody on the government program. The plan simply does not work.

BLITZER: Are you with Rick Perry when he says he supports instate tuition for children of illegal immigrants in Texas?

CAIN: No, absolutely not. Because I happen to believe that that puts children of illegals in front of citizens, in front of soldiers. I don't agree with that. We must first secure the border for real. That's the real problem we need to make sure that we solve. Then decide later -- now I do agree that it's a state's issue, it's a state's decision, but I don't believe in putting children of illegals, because of compassion, in front of citizens.

BLITZER: Could you support Rick Perry if he were the nominee?

CAIN: Today I could not support Rick Perry as the nominee for a host of reasons. Him being soft on securing the border is one of the reasons. I feel very strongly about the need to secure the border for real, the need to enforce the laws that are already there, the need to promote the path to citizenship that's already there.

But more importantly, empower the states to enforce the national federal immigration laws, because the federal government didn't do it, can't do it, and they never will do it. So that's where I think he and I have a basic fundamental difference of opinion.

BLITZER: You surprised a lot of people the other day when you won that Florida straw poll. Yet, there is this clamoring, apparently, by a lot of Republicans for Chris Christie to jump into the race right now. Is that insulting to you, and the other Republicans who are in the race?

CAIN: It's not insulting as much as it is a disservice to the American people. Chris Christie has said for a long time that he wasn't interested in running for president. Unfortunately, Wolf, the media is trying to create a story by sucking Chris Christie into this race just like they tried to create a story of sucking Rick Perry into the race. Now he had to make his own decision. And I respect that.

But the fact that they continue to ignore those people that have already declared, focus on the people that already declared-and I believe that that will do a better service to the American people if they get an opportunity to find out more about what we are about. That result in Florida last weekend, where I won that straw poll, it sent two very distinct messages, Wolf.

Number one, the voice of the people is more powerful than the voice of the media, with all due respect. Secondly, it says that the American people are going to make that decision and it also says that this movement, that we call the citizens movement, is more powerful than we thought. Message is more important than money. I believe that that's what's happening when you look at the results like those that happened in Florida.

BLITZER: Herman Cain, good to have you in THE SITUATION ROOM. Good luck.

CAIN: Thanks a lot, Wolf. My pleasure.

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