Top Republican presidential contender Herman Cain said Sunday the 2012 race is "absolutely not" a factor in the 2012 campaign, and that the support he has is based on voters liking his ideas, not his skin color.
Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," Cain reiterated the fact that he prefers the term "black American" to "African American." Cain's race has been the target of prominent black leaders and other commentators, some attacking him for not being "authentically" black due to his conservative politics.
"My roots go back through slavery in this country. Yes, they came from Africa. But the roots of my heritage are in the United States of America. So I consider myself a black American," Cain said.
Pressed by host David Gregory about an analysis of his signature "9-9-9" tax plan, Cain the proposal would cost some people more, but that it would eliminate other "invisible taxes" that hike up the price of goods.
“Some people will pay more, but most people will pay less, that’s my argument,” Cain said.
The people who will pay more, Cain said, are those who buy more new goods. The national sales tax would apply only to new goods, not used goods, benefiting poorer people, he said.
Questioned about what has shaped his foreign views, Cain said he's read the writings of Amb. John Bolton, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and K.T. McFarland. Asked whether he would describe himself as a "neoconservative," the foreign policy philosophy embraced particularly by former President George W. Bush, Cain did not appear to know what Gregory was asking about.
"I’m not sure by what you mean by a neoconservative. I am a conservative, yes. Neoconservative — labels, sometimes, will put you in a box. I’m very conservative," Cain said.
Gregory pressed, "But you’re familiar with the neoconservative movement?"
"I’m not familiar with the neoconservative movement," Cain said. "I’m familiar with the conservative movement. And let me define what I mean by the conservative movement: less government, less taxes, more individual responsibility."
Cain also said a comment he made Saturday on the campaign trail that the U.S. should secure its border with Mexico by building a 20-foot, barbed-wire, electrified fence with English and Spanish signs saying “it will kill you” was “a joke.”
“That’s not a serious plan,” he said. He added that solving the problem of illegal immigration will require a combination of a physical barrier, better technology, U.S. troops, and more freedom for states to “do what the federal government can’t do.”
Cain delighted supporters at a rally Saturday when the generator powering his sound system failed, and the longtime gospel singer launched into an impromptu rendition of "Impossible Dream."