Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain officially threw his hat into the 2012 ring on Saturday at a rally in Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park.
“I came here to declare my candidacy for the Republican nomination for President of the United States of America, this moment,” Cain said. “And, just to be clear, just to be clear, in case you accidentally listen to a skeptic out there, let me say it again: I’m running for President of the United States and I’m not running for second. I’m not running for second.”
“Now, let me tell you, because I’ve had reporters ask me sometimes, ‘well, are you running just to get attention and maybe come in second or maybe to get a cabinet position?’ I said you don’t know very much about me,” Cain said. “I don’t run for second. I’m running to be number one.”
Cain said one of the biggest reasons he’s running for president is because, “we have become a nation of crises.”
“We have a moral crisis,” Cain said. “We got an economic crisis. We’ve got an entitlement spending crisis. We’ve got an immigration crisis. We’ve got a foggy foreign affairs crisis. And, we’ve got a deficiency of leadership crisis in the White House. There is a big difference between leadership and positionship.”
Cain spokeswoman Ellen Carmichael tweeted that on-site security officials reported more than 15,000 people were at the rally.
The event’s emcee, conservative radio host Martha Zoller, hinted at some concerns critics of Cain’s candidacy have while opening up the day. Zoller pointed to a recent Gallup poll that found only 29 percent of all Republicans nationwide are aware of Cain. “But he has the most enthusiasm of his supporters of anyone out there,” Zoller said, pointing to the fact that the Gallup poll also found that 25 percent of all Republicans have a strongly favorable opinion of Cain.
Zoller describes Cain as “a man of integrity” and said she thinks “it is a plus for him that he is not from inside the beltway.”
Since the Fox News GOP primary debate in South Carolina at the beginning of the month, Cain has performed better in polling. In the latest Daily Caller/ConservativeHome presidential tracking poll, Cain placed third behind New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in terms of electability with 13 percent. Cain tied Christie in the poll for who respondents would pick as their first choice for 2012, with 15 percent.
“He is a man that is living the American dream every day,” Zoller said. “It is not dead.”
Cain ripped President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign buzzwords, hope and change, in his announcement. “Hope and change ain’t working. Hope and change is not a solution. Hope and change is not a job. Hope and change is not a new business,” Cain said. “Hope and change is not a vision. We need a new vision in this country and that means we need a new person leading this nation in the White House.”
Cain attacked the ongoing inside-the-beltway debate on whether or not to raise the debt ceiling. “Let me tell you what the Cain doctrine would be: We ain’t raising the debt ceiling,” he said. “We’re going to cut spending.”
Speaking to critics who say he lacks foreign policy experience, Cain said he would have a “real clear foreign policy,” and blasted Obama’s recent Middle East speech, especially as it applied to Israel.
“I love it when the skeptics want to criticize me because ‘lack of’ foreign policy experience,” Cain said. “Let me tell you what I know about foreign policy experience. I know that you don’t throw your friends under the bus. You don’t need to have years in the State Department to figure that out.”
Cain said he was “shocked” when Obama “threw Israel under the bus,” referring to the president’s call that Israel return to its pre-1967 borders, with “mutually agreed swaps,” in a final settlement agreement with the Palestinians.
Cain said the “Cain Doctrine” on Israel would be: “If you mess with Israel, you’re messing with the United States of America. Don’t mess with us.”
Cain rounded his speech with confidence that he’ll be the president come 2013. “When they declare the presidential results, and Herman Cain is in the White House, we’ll all be able to say, ‘Free at last, free at last! Thank God Almighty, this nation is free at last again!”
After Cain left the stage, rally attendees could be heard chanting another of Obama’s 2008 campaign slogans: “Yes we can.”