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CBS "Face the Nation" - Transcript

Interview

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BOB SCHIEFFER: And good morning again. Herman Cain is in the studio with us this morning with a big smile on his face. And no wonder, you are now leading, Mister Cain, in two national polls this week including the CBS News/New York Times poll. And here is the new Des Moines Register poll just out this morning for Iowa where the first contest takes place in January. Lo and behold, you are basically in a statistical tie with Mitt Romney. You've got twenty-three percent. He's one point behind. The only other candidate in double digits is Ron Paul with twelve percent. I guess the first question I have to ask you is why do you believe you're doing so well?

HERMAN CAIN (Republican Presidential Candidate): I believe that I'm doing so well because I'm connecting with the people. One of the other misperceptions about my campaign is that we just started a few months ago, right after I announced in May. I've actually been connecting with people in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida for over a year even before I made the decision to run. And so my message is connecting. And people are connecting with me. And the specific solutions I'm putting on the table.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you think it has anything to do with maybe Republicans just don't like Mitt Romney? That maybe they-- they-- they think he has a good record but that he just doesn't excite them. Do you think that has anything to do with it?

HERMAN CAIN: I don't think that's the driving force. The last couple of days, I've given a lot of speeches as you can probably tell from my voice. But the reaction in terms of how people have responded to my speeches, talking about specific solutions relative to the economy, specific things that I would do differently with-- as it relates to this President and this administration, they are genuinely enthused about what I'm saying and how I'm saying it. Americans want to feel proud again. And they don't feel that pride right now.

BOB SCHIEFFER: You know, although people like you, the same polls also show that a-- a majority of Americans--pretty substantial majority--really don't like your trademark 9-9-9 plan, your proposal to junk the current tax code and impose this nine percent sales tax and nine percent income tax and nine percent corporate tax. You've already made a change in it saying it ought to be 9-0-9 so poor people don't have to-- to pay this additional tax. But do you think you're going to have to just go back to the drawing board on this?

HERMAN CAIN: Absolutely not. And one correction, Bob. I didn't make a change to it--9-0-9, it was already in the analysis, and it was misreported that I changed it. It's just that people who were trying to attack it didn't read the entire analysis.

BOB SCHIEFFER: But it said 9. It said 9-9-9.

HERMAN CAIN: Right. The plan--

BOB SCHIEFFER (OVERLAPPING): And now you say it's 9-0-9.

HERMAN CAIN: No, no, no, no, no, no. What we're saying is we've always had a provision in the revenue that we collect to be able to allow people at or below the poverty level to pay zero on that income if they're at or below the poverty level. So we're not modifying it. That's been a part of it all along.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Correct me if I'm wrong.

HERMAN CAIN: Yes.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Did you not refer to it as 9-0-9?

HERMAN CAIN: Just the poverty piece. Just the poverty piece, but not the entire plan. The entire plan is 9-9-9.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Isn't it going to still, though, cause poor people, middle income people to pay more taxes than they used to pay because you have a sales tax? I mean people go to the-- go to the Walmart or the Target to buy school clothes for the kids--

HERMAN CAIN: Right.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --a nine percent sales tax.

HERMAN CAIN: Here's where we have some more educating to do. The cost of goods will actually go down because the way 9-9-9 works is that we take out the invisible embedded taxes. So essentially what will happen is the embedded taxes, which have been estimated by many economists on everything that we buy in this country, to be anywhere from thirty to forty percent of the cost of the product. A loaf of bread--thirty to forty percent of embedded taxes. We take that out in that first 9 by the way that-- by way it works. And then they will essentially be paying that nine percent. We have some more educating of the public. And this is why maybe some people don't like it yet, but this is-- we would rather take on the task of explaining it because it's the right thing to do.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And you still believe in maintaining it is fair to put the same tax on groceries and the same tax on medicine for poor people as for rich people.

HERMAN CAIN: Yes, because the cost of those items are going to go down. That's the hardest part to sell. But we're willing to take on that fight.

BOB SCHIEFFER: I want to ask you about the ad that we just saw at the top of this broadcast.

HERMAN CAIN: Yes.

BOB SCHIEFFER: I just want to show you-- and-- and I will preface that by saying the person doing the talking here is your campaign manager, Mark Block.

HERMAN CAIN: Chief of staff, yes.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Just listen to this.

MARK BLOCK (Campaign Web Ad): We've run a campaign like nobody has ever seen. But then America has never seen a candidate like Herman Cain. We need you to get involved because together we can do this. We can take this country back.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Mister Cain, I-- I just have to ask you. What is the point of that, having a man smoke a cigarette in a television commercial for you?

HERMAN CAIN: One of the themes within this campaign is let Herman be Herman. Mark Block is a smoker, and we say let Mark be Mark. That's all we're trying to say because we believe let people be people. He doesn't deny that he's a smoker. This isn't trying to--

BOB SCHIEFFER: Are you a smoker?

HERMAN CAIN: No, I'm not a smoker. But I don't have a problem if that's his choice. So let Herman be Herman. Let Mark be Mark. Let people be people. This wasn't intended to send any subliminal signal whatsoever.

BOB SCHIEFFER: But it does. It sends a signal that it's cool to smoke.

HERMAN CAIN: No, it does not. Mark Block smokes. That's all that ad says. We weren't trying to say it's cool to smoke. You have a lot of people in this country that smoke but what I respect about Mark as a smoker, who is my chief of staff, he never smokes around me or smokes around anyone else. He goes outside.

BOB SCHIEFFER: But he smokes on television.

HERMAN CAIN: Well, he smokes on television. But that was no other subliminal message.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Was it meant to be funny?

HERMAN CAIN: It was meant to be informative, if they listen to the message where he said, "America has never seen a candidate like Herman Cain." That was the main point of it. And the-- the bit on the end, we didn't know whether it was going to be funny to some people or whether they were going to ignore it--

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): Well--

HERMAN CAIN: --or whatever the case may be.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --let me just tell you, it's not funny to me.

HERMAN CAIN: Okay.

BOB SCHIEFFER: I am a cancer survivor--

HERMAN CAIN: Right.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --like you.

HERMAN CAIN: I am also.

BOB SCHIEFFER: I had cancer that's smoking related.

HERMAN CAIN: Yes.

BOB SCHIEFFER: I don't think it serves the country well. And this is an editorial opinion here, to be showing someone smoking a cigarette. And-- and you are the front-runner now. And it seems to me as front-runner, you would have a responsibility, not to take that kind of a tone in this. I would suggest that perhaps, as the front-runner, you'd want to raise the level of the campaign.

HERMAN CAIN: We will do that, Bob. And I do respect your objection to the ad. And probably about thirty percent of the feedback was very similar to yours. It was not intended to offend anyone. And being a cancer-- being a cancer survivor myself, I am sensitive to that sort of thing.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Would you take the ad down?

HERMAN CAIN: Well, it's on the internet. We didn't run it on TV. And once--

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): Well, why don't you--

HERMAN CAIN: Once--

BOB SCHIEFFER: --take it off the internet?

HERMAN CAIN: It's impossible to do now. Once you put it on the internet, it goes viral. We could take it off of our website but there are other sites that have already picked it up. It's nearly impossible to-- to erase that ad from the internet.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Have-- have you ever thought of just saying to young people, don't smoke? Four hundred thousand people in America die every year--

HERMAN CAIN (overlapping): I--

BOB SCHIEFFER: --from smoking related.

HERMAN CAIN: I will have no problem saying that. And matter of fact--

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): Well, say it right now.

HERMAN CAIN: Young people of America, all people, do not smoke. It is hazardous and it's dangerous to your health. Don't smoke. I've-- I've never smoked and I have encouraged people not to smoke. So, I don't--

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): And it's not a cool thing to do.

HERMAN CAIN: It is not a cool thing to do. And that's-- that's not what I was trying to say. Smoking is not a cool thing to do.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. You talked some about the missteps you have made in the campaign. I want to clear up just a couple of things to make sure your position--

HERMAN CAIN (overlapping): Sure.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --is on the record. Uh, you-- you talked about-- at one point, talking about immigration, you talked about sealing off the border with an electric fence that had barbed wire on the top and with a sign on it that said, "This fence can kill you." Now, you said that. Then you went on Meet The Press and told David Gregory, "Listen, I was just kidding. That was a joke." But then, the next day, you said well, an electric fence is part of it. And so, I want to ask you, do you think part of solving this problem is putting an electric fence on-- on the border?

HERMAN CAIN: I believe that solving the illegal immigration problem means solving four problems. First, secure the border for real that will be part of it secured with a fence, not necessarily electric but a fence. Another part with technology and another part with troops because of some of the areas that are so dangerous. So it will be a combination of the three. And yes, I said that was an over exaggeration. Secondly, we've got to promote the path of citizenship that's already here. We've got to enforce the laws that are already here. And we've got to empower the states to do what the federal government is not doing. I was in Alabama yesterday. They passed some laws and now the Justice Department, the Obama administration is coming down on them just like they came down on Arizona. I don't agree with that. I believe that the actions that Alabama took and that Arizona took to try and defend themselves and to do something about this is the right thing to do.

BOB SCHIEFFER: You also said at one point that you might want to back that fence up with a moat and fill it with alligators. Was that--

HERMAN CAIN (overlapping): That was--

BOB SCHIEFFER: --a joke too?

HERMAN CAIN: That was totally in jest, Bob. Some people are getting used to my sense of humor. And as I get more attention, I will tone down the sense of humor until I become President because America needs to get a sense of humor.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. So-- that would be pretty expensive by the way.

HERMAN CAIN: Right. It probably would.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. You-- you have also said several-- stated several positions on abortion. I want to get this settled for you once and for all.

HERMAN CAIN: Yes.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Where do you stand on the issue that is so important to so many Americans? At one point you said you were against abortion, period. But you, at another point said in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is at stake, you would leave that to the families to decide. So is that your position? In other words, that you are pro-life with the exception of rape, incest and when the health of the mother is at stake?

HERMAN CAIN: I am pro-life from conception, period. And if people look at many speeches that I have given over the years, that has and will still be my position.

BOB SCHIEFFER: But talk about those exceptions.

HERMAN CAIN: The pro-life from conception, period. I was-- that piece that was pulled out was taken totally out of context when we were talking about--

BOB SCHIEFFER: Okay, so in other about words you-- you don't-- would not even believe in abortion if rape, incest or the health of the mother was involved.

HERMAN CAIN: Correct. That's my position.

BOB SCHIEFFER: That is now--

HERMAN CAIN: That's my position.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --your position.

HERMAN CAIN: Yes.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right.

HERMAN CAIN: And thanks for having me to clear that up.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Okay. I want to ask you, since we're on the subject of abortion, it was at one point back there when the question of Planned Parenthood came up and you said that it was not Planned Parenthood, it was really planned genocide. Because you said Planned Parenthood was trying to put all these centers into the Black communities because they wanted to kill Black babies--

HERMAN CAIN (overlapping): Yes.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --before they were born. You still stand by that?

HERMAN CAIN: I still stand by that.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you have any proof that that was the objective of Planned Parenthood?

HERMAN CAIN: If people go back and look at the history and look at Margaret Sanger's own words, that's exactly where that came from. Look-- look up the history. So if you go back and look up the history-- secondly, look at where most of them were built. Seventy-five percent of those facilities were built in the Black community. And Margaret Sanger's own words-- she didn't use the word genocide but she did talk about preventing the-- the increasing number of poor Blacks in this country by preventing Black babies from being born.

BOB SCHIEFFER: So-- so you would not see any advantage to having young mothers get counsel and advice that Planned Parenthood could give them? I mean, with so many Black babies born out of wedlock?

HERMAN CAIN: There are a lot of centers that offer sincere counseling rather than Planned Parenthood claiming to be those centers when in fact they would rather for the young lady to come in and say they want to get an abortion and facilitate that. Plenty of centers out there genuinely do that. What I'm saying is Planned Parenthood isn't sincere about wanting to go try to counsel them not to have abortions.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let's talk a little bit about foreign policy--

HERMAN CAIN (overlapping): Yes.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --that hasn't come up much in the campaign. What do you consider the most the pressing foreign policy problem confronting United States today?

HERMAN CAIN: I think the most pressing foreign policy problem we have is lack of clarity relative to our relationship with other countries around the world. Let's take Afghanistan. Twelve Americans were killed last week. And then just a few days earlier, the President said that if America gets into a fight or some sort of war with Pakistan, that Afghanistan is going to side with Pakistan. That lacks clarity, Bob. And if you take every relationship we have in the world, it lacks clarity. Take Iraq. Similarly. For the President to announce that we are going to draw-- do a drawdown on the troops by a date-certain, that just leaves a power vacuum in Iraq.

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): But--

HERMAN CAIN: --and that's not clear about why we are there and it also leaves it unclear as to how we are going to deal with other nations.

BOB SCHIEFFER: But Mister Cain, it was George Bush who struck the deal that said we'd have the troops out by the end of this year. It was George Bush who struck the deal.

HERMAN CAIN: Well, Bob, that's fine. But a responsible Commander in Chief would go to the commanders on the ground and ask, should we continue with this or should we modify it? So even though-- look, President Obama changed a lot of other things that Bush started so I don't believe that he's doing it because it was the Bush doctrine.

BOB SCHIEFFER: But do you think it was irresponsible of George Bush to-- to set a date-certain as he did?

HERMAN CAIN: It was irresponsible for George Bush to set a date certain, but I believe that the Commander in Chief, if you have a new President, must re-evaluate the situation, and the biggest thing that I would do differently is listen to the commanders on the ground. I'm not convinced that the commanders on the ground agree with that strategy.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Mister Cain, we want to thank you for being here today for ask-- answering the questions that I asked you. So I appreciate it. I hope you'll come back to see us.

HERMAN CAIN (overlapping): It's my pleasure.

BOB SCHIEFFER: We wish you well down the trail.

HERMAN CAIN: Thanks, Bob. Enjoyed it.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT


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