Potential 2012 GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain dismissed concerns about what some see as his campaigns biggest weakness, his lack of political experience, in remarks at a Wednesday Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) luncheon.
Despite a successful corporate career, Cain’s only political experience was a lost bid for Senate a few years back. American Spectator publisher Al Regnery asked Cain how he’s handling the fact that most Republican presidential candidates are current or former elected representatives? Cain responded that he’s already got 100,000 “boots-on-the-ground” grassroots activists from all around the country signed up to help him, and that several straw polls have shown he’s hanging in there with the political juggernauts.
“Most of the other potential presidential nominees have ‘honorable former senator, former governor, former Speaker,’” Cain said. “They just call me Mr. Cain.”
Cain doesn’t view his lack of political experience as a drawback, though. He sees it as a way to reconnect the American people with Washington.
Cain described how he’d go about making budget cuts using business terms. He’d start by making a “horizontal cut,” or cutting a certain percentage from the budget across the board. Then, he said he’d make vertical dives into each executive agency with the goal of finding and eliminating obsolete programs and parts of programs that address problems another area of the government already address.
Cain dropped new a policy position at the ATR lunch, too. When explaining what he means by his statement that he wants to change America into an “empowerment society” from an “entitlement society,” Cain said he wants to “unravel all unfunded mandates.” By that, he means he wants to remove any and all pre-requisites states have to fulfill in order to receive federal funding. Cain talks often about “empowering” states to make their own decisions, but he hasn’t gone as far as saying all unfunded mandates need to go until Wednesday.
Cain said he’d block grant all education funding, or give each state the power to choose how it spends education money. “Long term, the amount of money coming from the federal government relative to education going to the states would gradually decrease over time such that the states would be responsible, starting at the local level, for developing better education in their states,” he said. Cain said he doesn’t know if he would push for the Department of Education to be completely eliminated as president, but he does know that, at least, “it would be dramatically smaller.”
Cain said the unfunded mandates, including education funding, “cripple the states from doing what they deem best.”
“I’m a big believer in ‘take the problem closest to where the problem is,’ and you’ll find a better solution,” Cain said. “Good education, in my view, starts at home and at the local level and it works its way up, not the other way around.”
If Cain gets the Republican nomination and faces off with President Barack Obama, Cain said he’d beat the incumbent Democrat with a “focus on explaining what I’d do differently.” Cain said he’d also highlight his “real-world leadership experience” and his “real-world problem-solving experience.”
“I think it’d become so obvious, in terms of the differences between us, because he [Obama] would not be able to demonstrate, even having been president for a number of years, how he would truly go about solving America’s problems,” Cain said.