Herman Cain – or the Hermanator, as he calls himself in his new book, This Is Herman Cain!: My Journey to the White House – is so confident he will be elected president on November 6, 2012, he’s already sketched out his first 90 days in office. Among the things he says he’ll do in the early days of a Cain administration: “Treat our economic system as I would a corporation on the verge of bankruptcy: Step one, just make a 10 percent across-the-board cut” from all government departments. Step two, he says, would include “vertical deep dives” in which every department would be asked to justify its cost and directly answer the question, “Is it still in the best interests of the country?”
According to a new CBS News poll, Cain, 65, is now tied with Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, atop the field of Republican presidential candidates. Among GOP primary voters, support for Cain now stands at17 percent support, compared with 5 percent two weeks ago. (Rick Perry has fallen 11 percentage points in just two weeks.) Cain’s 9-9-9 tax plan has attracted voters: He’d replace the current tax code with a nine-percent flat income tax, a nine-percent corporate tax, and a nine-percent national sales tax.
Cain’s new book was released on Tuesday, October 4, by Threshold Editions, the conservative imprint of Simon & Schuster. And on the topic of conservatism, Cain says his Supreme Court litmus test will be, “conservative, conservative, conservative. All I’ve got to ask them is, ‘Are you going to enforce the Constitution to the best of your ability?’”
Other positions and bits of personal background that emerge from the pages of the former businessman’s book:
- To become energy independent, he believes this country should tap into the oil reserves of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). “The area proposed for ANWR production comprises less than one percent of the refuge’s 19 million acres and could yield billions and billions of barrels of recoverable oil,” he argues. “It’s as if the answer to energy independence is close at hand, but excessive regulation sand environmental extremists who influence timid legislators are holding America hostage to foreign oil.” He adds, “When I become president, we will adopt a Drill Here, Drill Now strategy,” with a “bold goal” of “zero dependence on foreign oil.”
- He would “unbundle education” down to the local level, and reward the teachers “who enrich the lives of their students” and hold accountable those who do not. “It means making those on the ground responsible for the teaching and learning that goes on in their communities. It means expanding school vouchers and charter schools. It means offering parents choices for their children’s education.”
- He would work to cut down “excessive governmental regulation,” lessening the bureaucracy “while helping businesses succeed.”
- He would hit the unions hard. “The desire of unions to make unsustainable demands on local, state, and federal government, irrespective of the devastating impact, is totally illogical, not to mention showing a collective disregard for the taxpayer.” He’s a supporter of Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, for his efforts to curb public employees’ union rights.
- He believes that “if you mess with Israel, you’re messing with the United States of America. Don’t mess with us. Don’t mess with us. Is that real clear?” On the subject of foreign policy, he says, “I know enough about the importance of supporting one’s allies… You don’t throw your faithful friends under the bus,” as he says President Obama has by demanding a return to the pre-1967 Six Day War borders.
- He’s also going to replace Obamacare with “Caincare,” he says, something he describes in rather glorious and non-specific terms: It’s a “compassionate approach to providing the best possible diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care for Americans of all ages.”
- And he declares that “as a man made exceptional by God’s grace,” he will “prayerfully look forward” to making “America exceptional again.”
- He grew up in the segregated Atlanta of the ‘50s and ‘60s, one of two sons of Luther Cain, Jr. (Herman Cain’s brother, Thurman, died in his early 50s, of drug and alcohol-related health problems). Cain’s father worked “three jobs until he could make it off of two jobs; then he worked those two jobs until he could make it off of that one job.” (Those three jobs were barber, janitor, and chauffeur.)
- Cain was salutatorian and president of his high school class at Samuel Howard Archer High School in Atlanta. He graduated from Morehouse College in 1967 with a degree in mathematics. He later earned a master’s degree in computer science.
- He received 25 job offers after college graduation, he says, and took a job as a mathematician with the U.S. Navy in Dahlgren, Virginia.
- He encountered discrimination “even after major civil rights legislation had been passed,” he says, and describes how he “couldn’t get a haircut in the barbershop of my choosing” in Fredericksburg, Virginia, where a barber “told me that they were not allowed to cut black people’s hair.” That day, Cain walked out the door, bought a pair of clippers and cut his own hair – something he still does to this day.
- He left government work for a job at Coca-Cola, working there for four years as a project manager. At age 32 he then left to join Pillsbury, eventually heading up its management information systems in the consumer products division. From there he went to Burger King, running its Philadelphia region so well he was offered the CEO position at Godfather’s Pizza, headquartered in Miami, in 1986.
- He prefers deep-dish pizza to thin-crust pizza.
- After his success at Godfather’s while still in his 40s, he served on the boards of several major corporations, including Nabisco, Whirlpool, and Super Valu. He was chairman of the board and president of the National Restaurant Association; chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in 1995; and advisor to the Dole-Kemp ticket in the 1996 presidential campaign.
- In 1998 he became CEO of RetailDNA, a start-up technology company focused on “smart marketing applications for retail businesses.”
- He beat stage-four cancer – it was found in his colon and liver in 2006 – and after surgery and chemotherapy that year, he’s been cancer free since.
- As a black conservative whose campaign is now taking off, he understands that “liberals in the media and elsewhere are getting nervous about me.” But he doesn’t hold a grudge against Jon Stewart, who recently mocked him in the tone of Amos ‘n’ Andy and Stepin Fetchit: “I guess Jon Stewart is trying to be funny. He doesn’t offend me, because I know who I am. I just look forward to the day when he has to call me ‘Mr. President.’ He can do it in an Amos ‘n’ Andy dialect.”
- He bluntly lists his “weaknesses”: “I don’t claim to know everything. I don’t pander to groups. I am terrible at political correctness.”
- He sees himself “as being American first, black second, and conservative third.”
- He doesn’t much like Black History Month. “Why do we get only a month?” says Cain. “How come we can’t get a whole year?”
- He already knows the meal he wants on his deathbed: “a fork-tender roast, collard greens, green beans, candied yams, hand-shucked corn, and homemade cornbread.”