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Herman Cain Targets Obama, Race and Racism and Why He Joined the GOP

Herman Cain Targets Obama, Race and Racism and Why He Joined the GOP

Herman Cain defends criticisms of President Obama and a useful lesson learned from the country's first Black president.

Published June 30, 2011

In an interview that will appear in the upcoming New York Times Sunday magazine, GOP presidential contender Herman Cain talks about some of the critical comments he’s made about President Obama as well as an important lesson he’s learned from the nation’s first Black president.


Cain explained that when he said that the liberal establishment is afraid of “a real Black man” running against Obama, what he actually meant to say was that “a real Black man is not timid about making the right decisions.” And, he couldn’t resist pointing out that the president, who characterizes himself as African-American, is actually bi-racial. Cain also said that Obama isn’t the sort of “strong black man” that he can identify with, like the late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. or his father, Luther Cain, Jr.


It was a visit to the famous Sylvia’s soul food restaurant in Harlem with Republican lawmaker Jack Kemp that inspired Cain, then a registered independent, to switch parties. Another African-American diner declared at the time that there was no such thing as a Black Republican, which Cain couldn’t shake.


“When I got back to Omaha, I registered as a Republican,” he tells the Times. “It haunted me for three days that someone would dare tell me what affiliation I should have.”


Cain also addressed charges that the Tea Party movement, of which he’s a favorite, is racist.


“There’s no validity to that whatsoever,” Cain said. “People who are still making those accusations have no other way to intimidate the growing force of the Tea Party citizens’ movement."


Despite his misgivings about Obama’s presidency, Cain is more than willing to learn from his success. Unlike GOP candidates and former governors Jon Huntsman or Mitt Romney, he’s not giving up the money he earned running Godfather’s Pizza and he recognizes that his low name recognition isn’t going to make the campaign dollars roll in.


Citing a book written by Obama campaign manager and chief strategist David Plouffe about Obama’s 2008 fundraising strategy that attracted a boatload of small-donor contributions, Cain said, “Guess what we did? We read the book. Genius!”


And if you know nothing else about Herman Cain, know this: “I don’t have a problem taking a good idea and using it, even if it did come from Obama,” he says.


(Photo: AP Photo/The Greenville News, Bart Boatwright)

Written by Joyce Jones


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