I had originally been scheduled to speak to the Solivita Republican Club last night. They wanted me to provide an analysis of the Republican presidential field. However, tonight being the big debate sponsored by Fox News and Google, there are presidential hopefuls to be found throughout Florida, seeking to get their message out to the faithful. One of those, Herman Cain, ended up bumping me from my speaking engagement, as he addressed the club instead.
I didn’t mind. It was good to have the opportunity not only to hear him in person, but to sit right next to him at the table. He was very personable—he’s definitely a “people person”—and he got a good laugh from my tale of being “bumped” by him. Most of our conversation was of the “getting-to-know-you” variety rather than of political substance. I knew that when he got up to speak, I’d get plenty of the latter.
First, his Christian faith is not something he hides. I commented to him after we had been seated that I really appreciated his Christian testimony. He told the audience of about 250 that he felt God had called him to run for president. Why? He’s concerned for his grandchildren that the shining city on a hill that Reagan often mentioned will not be there as they grow up. The city has slipped down the hill somewhat, he said, and he felt he had a duty to try to move it back to the top. He also talked about the stage four cancer he had experienced five years ago, when he was told he had only a 30% chance of surviving. He firmly believes God brought him through that in a miraculous fashion—he remains cancer-free today.
When it came to specifics on policy, he was not bashful. He told me before he got up to speak that politicians are usually too vague, and that he wanted to break that mold and offer bold, specific initiatives to remedy the mess we’re in, particularly the financial precipice on which we stand. He does have a specific two-stage plan for rectifying the situation. Phase one he calls the 9/9/9 plan: throw out the existing tax code and reduce it to a 9% corporate tax, a 9% flat income tax, and a 9% consumption tax on new goods and services (exempting food and other basics). He believes this will jumpstart the economy. Once that is in place, he would than push for the “Fair Tax,” which would eliminate all corporate and income taxes, allowing people to pay taxes only on items they purchase.
He also outlined what he called common-sense solutions in other areas. He was an impressive speaker with a strong message; the audience responded enthusiastically to him. He has an ability to connect with people. Some of that shows forth in the presidential debates, but the format of those debates doesn’t allow him to get into his stride in the way he did last night.
I like Cain very much. Does he have any chance at all of getting this nomination? Interestingly, as I drove away from the meeting, I turned on the radio and happened upon a talk show with broadcaster Mark Levin. Just as I started listening, he said he had Herman Cain on the line. Cain was speaking to him from his bus just after addressing the Republican club. So here was the man I had been speaking to personally half an hour before, now speaking to a satellite radio audience. I didn’t expect that. Levin made a comment at the end of the interview about whether Cain was really viable. He reminded his audience that not one real vote had been cast yet, and that no one in the Republican field had garnered more than 30% of the vote at this point. In that sense, it remains a wide-open race. Yes, Perry and Romney seem to have the lead, but nothing is set in stone.
Stranger things have happened in politics. Look who occupies the White House now.
All the best to you, Mr. Cain. Let’s see what happens.