Confusing Remarks Have Cain Under Fire
(AP) Herman Cain is learning the hard way what it means to face the glare of the national spotlight.
After captivating Republicans hungry for an alternative to 2012 GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney, Cain has made a series of stumbles that have left some questioning whether he’s ready for the White House.
His words and actions have drawn more scrutiny since his rise in the polls catapulted him into the top tier of the race for the party’s white House nomination.
But Cain has sometimes appeared to be in over his head. Consider what’s happened over the past week:
—He suggested electrifying a fence along the U.S. border with Mexico to kill illegal immigrants trying to enter the United States. Cain later called it a joke on Meet the Press, and apologized if anyone was offended by the remarks:
—He said he would negotiate for the release of U.S. prisoners held by terrorists, then reversed himself and said he had misunderstood the question.
—He muddied the water on abortion. He told CNN that while he strongly opposes abortion, “the government shouldn’t be trying to tell people everything to do, especially when it comes to social decisions that they need to make.” He later issued a statement reiterating his opposition to abortion. CNN Video of Herman Cain’s confusing abortion stance expressed in an interview with Piers Morgan:
—Amid criticism that his 9-9-9 tax overhaul would force the majority of Americans to pay more to the government, he reworked the plan to exclude the poorest people and to allow some deductions. Backers of Cain’s original plan had praised its simplicity, and carving out exceptions could erode that support.
Through it all, Cain has appeared unflappable. He chalks up the reversals to the breakneck pace of the race.
“In a couple of instances … I misspoke because of the pace of the interview. I don’t call it a flip-flop. I’d rather come back and explain to people what I really meant,” Cain said Friday after an economic speech in Detroit. “It doesn’t send mixed messages. It just shows that I’m willing to correct myself … if in fact I need to correct myself for clarity. That’s what I’m trying to achieve.”
For those in the GOP still in search of a candidate to back, his rocky rollout on the national stage has reinforced the view that Cain, who’s never won an election, isn’t ready for the big leagues.
“I’m looking for someone that’s electable and right now I don’t think he fits into that category,” said 60-year-old Gene Carkeet of Memphis, Tenn., who attended a recent Cain rally there but remains undecided.
Gwen Ecklund, Republican chairwoman in Crawford County, Iowa, said Cain “has had a bad week.”
“I do think it made some people take a second look,” she said.
Cain’s stumbles come as the campaign of rival Rick Perry shows signs of renewed vigor.
The Texas governor has plummeted in public opinion polls as Cain has climbed. But Perry turned in a spirited and combative debate performance at a recent forum in New Hampshire and plans to detail his own tax reform proposal relying on a flat tax under which everyone would pay the same income tax rate.
Cain and Perry are competing for support from tea party groups and evangelical voters.
Ralph Reed, a Republican strategist who founded the national Christian Coalition and now heads the Faith and Freedom Coalition, said Cain is going through the growing pains that come with sudden national exposure.
“It’s a learning curve for any candidate who moves from the back of the pack to front of the pack,” Reed said. “You undergo the political equivalent of a GI tract exam … where every word is weighed and chewed over and scrutinized.”
Reed said that after months of jumping on every media appearance offered, Cain and his staff must now limit his exposure and hammer home carefully honed talking points.
That’s a tall order for a man who has spent years as a conservative radio talk-show host, saying what was on his mind and scoring points for being provocative.
Whether Cain’s willingness to retool his 9-9-9 tax plan will be seen as a strength or a weakness is an open question.
“I guess we’ll see what the polls say next week,” said Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform. Norquist had been critical of Cain’s original proposal.
Not everyone is disheartened by Cain’s missteps. Kay Godwin, co-founder of Georgia Conservatives in Action, said she is still solidly behind him.
“”Look at Romney and Perry at the last debate. They can’t even be civil to each other on a stage in front of a national audience,” Godwin said. “At his core, Herman has the heart to save this country.”
Benghazi, IRS, AP...What's next? Only TheBlaze TV offers the truth from Glenn Beck, Andrew Wilkow, and Real News from TheBlaze. Get instant access and a free trial here.
- ‘Bigoted, Religious [Zealots]‘: High School Senior Allegedly Expelled, Charged With Felonies Over Gay Relationship With ‘Consenting’ Fellow Student 1,038 Comments
- ‘The Daily Show’ Creator Makes Outrageously Offensive Anti-Conservative Joke About Okla. Tornado 462 Comments
- Washington Times Writer: Fox News Scandal Goes ‘Much Deeper,’ W.H. Sitting on Something Top Obama Aides ‘Terrified’ About 437 Comments
- University Will Investigate Christian Professor’s Intelligent Design Class Following Atheist Furor 313 Comments
- See the First Behind-the-Scenes Photos as Beck and Mercury One Survey the Damage in Okla. 254 Comments
- ‘Death! You F**k!’: Bat Mitzvah Chaperone Unleashes Explosive, Profanity-Laced Tirade Against Kids Over Candy-Throwing Incident Read More
- How Can God Let Tragedies Like the Okla. Tornado Exist? Pastors Weigh In 165 Comments
- Is This Video of Pope Francis Performing an Exorcism? Read More
- Boston Cardinal Snubs Irish PM Over Abortion Support Read More
- Incredible: The Moment a Woman’s Dog Emerges from Rubble During TV Interview Right After She Describes Losing Him 227 Comments
- China Sets off What Could Be the World’s Longest Demolition Read More
- Here are the 5 Most Interesting Moments from Tuesday’s Hearing on the IRS Scandal 113 Comments
- Jay Carney Shifts IRS Timeline (Again!) 103 Comments
- Top IRS Official at Center of Political Targeting Scandal Will Plead the Fifth 136 Comments
- Disgraced IRS Interim Chief Now Fully Admits Knowledge of Planted Question (but Did It Reveal a Past Half-Truth?) Read More
- The Incredible Role Facebook Played in the Aftermath of Devastating Okla. Tornado Read More
- Tech Company Demonstrates Remote Disabling of a ‘Smart Gun’ Read More
- Meet the Blind Man Nicknamed ‘Midnight Gunslinger’ Who Has 80% Shot Accuracy Read More
- How a $4.5 Million Network of 181 Sirens Helped Save Lives in Oklahoma Twister Read More
- See the Record-Setting Python a Man Caught With His Bare Hands (and Guess How Much It Weighed) Read More
- Lowe's 1Q profit rises, chilly spring hurts sales
- US auto factories cutting back on summer downtime
- Chinese premier visits Pakistan, praises ties
- EU leaders discuss fight against tax evasion
- Octogenarians race to be oldest Everest climber
- Iran's Ahmadinejad denounces election decision
- Anthony Weiner launches bid to become NYC mayor
- Diplomats: Iran expands nuke technology