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CNN "Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees" - Transcript


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COOPER: And we're joined now by Herman Cain, who has found himself soaring in the polls.

Congratulations on that. How did you feel about tonight?

CAIN: I felt good about it.

I believe that the questions that I got, I was able to get a very specific answer. And I felt real good about it in terms of how I responded. It was a little frustrating at first, because I was getting attacked so much on our plan, the 999 plan. And I really didn't feel as if I had ample enough time to counter some of it, but I know we had to move on.

COOPER: What do you say to conservatives, a variety of conservative publications, Grover Norquist, among others, who are saying that this 999 plan, the more you look at, it is going to raise taxes on middle-class voters, it is going to raise tax on lower-income Americans as well?

CAIN: Anderson, here's what I say. They haven't read our complete analysis. That's all...


COOPER: They say they have done the analysis.

CAIN: No, they have not done the analysis.

Look, we had fiscal associates analyze this whole thing from a static standpoint and a dynamic standpoint. We provide all the analysis, all of the tables. And if they go through it, they will see our assumptions.

What some of these organizations are doing, they are making their own assumption which do not agree with our assumptions. And so this is why I make my appeal to the American people. Sit down and do your own 999 math and see how it affect yours family relative to the taxes you paid last year.

COOPER: I want to show our viewers just some of the exchange that you had with Governor Romney on 999. Let's watch. CAIN: Yes.


ROMNEY: Herman, are you saying that the state sales tax will also go away?

CAIN: No, that's an apple.


CAIN: We're replacing a bunch of oranges.


So, then Governor Perry was right that --

CAIN: No, he wasn't. He was mixing apples and oranges.

ROMNEY: Well, but will the people in Nevada not have to pay Nevada sales tax and in addition pay the 9 percent tax?

CAIN: Governor Romney, you're doing the same thing that they're doing. You're mixing apples and oranges. You're going to pay --

ROMNEY: I'm --

CAIN: No, no, no, no. You're going to pay the state sales tax, no matter what.

ROMNEY: Right.

CAIN: Whether you throw out the existing code and you put in our plan, you're still going to pay that. That's apples and oranges.


CAIN: Yes.

ROMNEY: And I'm going to be getting a bushel basket that has apples and oranges in it because I have got to pay both taxes, and the people in Nevada don't want to pay both taxes.


COOPER: Basically, everybody on the stage was saying that this would result in more taxes. There are a number of Americans, 47 percent of Americans, who don't pay taxes right now, don't earn enough, in many case, to pay taxes. They would be paying taxes under your plan.

CAIN: No, for two reasons.

Prices would go down. We take the embedded -- we take the embedded taxes out of the cost of goods and services in that first nine, because businesses are able to deduct those purchases made from U.S. companies. And what will happen is competition will drive document prices and as a result, people won't be paying anymore.

Secondly, because of the new goods/used good rules, if you spend -- if you buy used goods, you don't pay taxes on it because it has been paid. Everything gets taxed once. This is why most people will actually see a tax decrease if they go through the math.

COOPER: Well, earlier in the day, talking to my colleague Wolf Blitzer, you did suggest that you would be willing to possibly entertain the idea of exchanging one American soldier for everybody currently held in Guantanamo if al Qaeda demanded that, if they were holding one American soldier for years.

CAIN: If I said that, I spoke in error. Maybe I didn't understand the question. If I did say that, I would not do that, because I believe in a philosophy we cannot negotiate with terrorists.

COOPER: OK. I just want to play for our viewers the sound bite that you said.

CAIN: Sure.

And I still can't hear it.

COOPER: All right.



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Could you imagine if you were president -- and we're almost out of time -- and there were one American soldier who had been held for years, and the demand was al Qaeda or some other terrorist group, you have got to free everyone at Guantanamo Bay, several hundred prisoners at Guantanamo?

Could you see yourself, as president, authorizing that kind of transfer?

CAIN: I could see myself authorizing that kind of transfer, but what I would do is, I would make sure that I got all of the information, I got all of the input, considered all of the options. And then the president has to be the president and make a judgment call. I could make that call if I had to.


COOPER: "I could make that call if I had to."

CAIN: I misspoke, because I didn't -- you know, it was moving so fast. I misspoke. I would not do that. I simply would not do that.


COOPER: Because, bottom line, you are saying that would be negotiating with terrorists.

CAIN: That would be negotiating with terrorists, absolutely.

COOPER: You think Israel made a mistake in exchanging -- they got home this prisoner, Gilad Shalit, who has been held for five years by Hamas. They exchanged more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for that. It's very controversial in Israel.


CAIN: Yes.

COOPER: Do you think they made the right move?

CAIN: Well, here is how I probably ended up misspeaking about our situation, because I said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu obviously had a lot of things to consider in order to make that decision.

So, what I'm saying is, I can't say that he did the right thing or the wrong thing just looking at it based upon the numbers. That was the point that I was trying to make. And so I probably misspoke when I went from that situation over to this situation. You got to have all the facts.

COOPER: You're -- you have this juggernaut. You're now -- no one probably predicted -- I don't even know if you predicted this early on when you started running, that you would be up in the polls there with Mitt Romney. Do you have the campaign staff you need?

CAIN: Yes.

COOPER: because A lot of folks have been saying, look, you guys are kind of -- you're doing a big book tour. You don't have campaign staff. You only have, you know, a few people here or there in New Hampshire and in Iowa.

Are you hiring people now?

CAIN: Let me correct a few misperceptions.

First of all, we already staff in New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina, Florida, and in several other states.

COOPER: How many people do you have in New Hampshire?

CAIN: We have a staff of about three people in New Hampshire, and we're in the process of adding more people in New Hampshire.

The other thing is, we are raising money. We got money to stay in this race. People are saying we are broke now. About this book tour, we had six days carved out where we combined signing books for the book -- release of the book and mixture of campaign events.

I didn't do a month-long book tour. We did six days, and half the events were signing books, and the other half of the events were camp events. The other thing is, we are hiring people now. We are hiring people for our corporate offices for all of the states. We are ramping up.

And the good news is, there are plenty of good people out there, and we are adding them very rapidly.

COOPER: And you are in this to win it?

CAIN: In it to win it.

COOPER: Herman Cain, thank you, sir.

CAIN: Thanks a lot, Anderson.

COOPER: Thank you.


COOPER: Again, a lot of well-wishers here who want to talk to you.

All right, take care.

CAIN: Thanks a lot. Appreciate it. Enjoyed it.

COOPER: Thank you.

A big hour ahead tonight with the panel and more. Let us know what you think. We are on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper. I will be tweeting tonight.

We're going to talk to our panel, Donna Brazile, and Ari Fleischer, and Gloria Borger, and David Gergen.

We're also going to show you the most electric moments of the night, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry trading blows over illegal immigration, Governor Perry getting personal at times. Erin Burnett is joining us shortly, so is Dana Loesch, as our coverage of the Western Republican presidential debate continues.

We will be right back.


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