Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain told The Daily Caller that the biggest threat he expects from former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the most recent entrant into the Republican primary field, is his loads of campaign cash. “We’ve got to beat Mitt Romney’s money, not Mitt Romney,” Cain said.
Cain thinks Romney’s deep war chest gives the perceived frontrunner an “advantage.” Even so, Cain said he doesn’t think Romney’s “message is stronger than” his. “I don’t think his business background is any more impressive than mine,” Cain said. “He just happens to have a deeper war chest and you can do a lot of things in terms of hiring staff, putting together programs, so we just basically have to work smarter with the dollars we will raise.”
To build a war chest himself, Cain said he’s raising money in two ways: through traditional fundraisers and through online donors. He said while his traditional fundraising events at supporters’ homes are aimed at bringing in “larger donors,” his campaign has been getting loads of smaller donations online.
“The online contributions have taken off and, what we have seen, is after the debate and that Frank Luntz focus group that said that Herman Cain did well and he was the winner, we saw our online contributions double right from there, frankly,” he said. “And, we’re not talking about huge, large numbers. We’re talking about people giving $50, $100. When we get a $250 contribution online, we go ‘Wow!’”
Cain said that big events spark more online donations. For example, he said he got another donation “bump” after his official announcement rally on May 21, and when he shoots up in polls and makes it into headlines, the donations roll in. “What happens is you get another bump and then you kind of settle, but it doesn’t go back down to the previous level,” Cain said. “So, we gradually are getting more and more volunteers and we’re getting more and more donors. And, some of these donors, they give every month. We can track that.”
Cain took exception to the notion that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s campaign has completely disintegrated after he knocked House Budget Chair Paul Ryan’s entitlement reform plan on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Well, he’s obviously been beat up pretty bad about certain things,” Cain said. “But Newt’s got such a reputation of depth, and, you know, he can still hang in there. I don’t think he has totally self-destructed at this point because he said some things and then got beat up from the conservative side of things.”
As for the expected entrance into the race of Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann and continued speculation about a possible presidential run by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Cain said he’d welcome them in the race. Palin and Bachmann, both Tea Party movement figures like Cain, might steal some of his thunder if they jump in. But Cain says that doesn’t worry him.
“If one or both of them get in, I would applaud them getting in. I think it only makes the race better,” he said. “I’m not worried about Michele Bachmann getting more of the Tea Party folk than I get because I’m also identified as a favorite with the Tea Party. People will sort that out. I think it’ll be good for the race because, if you’ve got the media covering three conservative voices out there, that’s good for helping to educate people, helping people to understand what this conservative movement is.”
Whether Bachmann and Palin get in the race or not, Cain said his campaign strategy remains the same. “We don’t have any ‘if Bachmann gets in or not’ strategies, ‘if Sarah Palin gets in or not’ strategies, no,” he said. “The only strategy we have is the Cain for president strategy going on.”
Cain’s recent statement of support for Ryan’s budget plan made him a target of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). He likes being in DNC crosshairs, though, as he thinks it “means they are taking me seriously.”
As for his lack of extensive foreign policy experience, a major criticism of his campaign, Cain said he’s “studying” to try to get a better handle on those issues. He said he’s got foreign policy advisers helping him learn what’s going on around the world.
“People are going to continue to say my biggest weakness is lack of foreign policy experience,” Cain said. “Well, how much foreign policy experience did President Obama have? Probably less than I have. At least, being on the radio, I’ve been forced to follow some of these situations very closely even though I may not be considered a foreign policy expert and I don’t need to become a foreign policy expert. I need to be a good decision-maker based upon surrounding myself with the foreign policy experts.”
Cain came under fire a short time ago for not knowing what the Palestinian “Right of Return” was when Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace asked him about it. Cain said he now understands the concept and said he could probably teach Wallace a thing or two about Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“The one that was highlighted, the thing on Chris Wallace, and I have admitted, ‘yeah, he caught me off guard with that question,’ that’s going to happen,” Cain said. “Now, note how he asked the question. In the middle of a fiery Q and A, ‘How do you feel about Right of Return?’ He didn’t say ‘Palestinian Right of Return.’ And, yes, I was caught off guard. Shoot me!”
Cain added that he thinks he now knows more about the Israeli-Palestinian situation than Wallace now. “If he [Wallace] asked me that question again, I could tell him more about the Israeli-Palestinian situation that he probably knows,” he said.
Even so, Cain believes it’s better to admit when he doesn’t know something than to try to act like he does. “I’m going to continue to do that,” Cain said. “I’m not going to try to fake it and we’re not going to put out a spin memo if I flub something. No, I’m going to say, ‘I did not know this piece. Now I do. Ask me the question again.’”
Another criticism of Cain is that he served on the board of the Federal Reserve in the 1990s, and Ron Paul-types have trouble supporting that. Cain, though, told TheDC he’s “not ashamed” of his time with the Federal Reserve. “I am proud of what the Federal Reserve did back in the 1990s for this country and for our monetary system,” Cain said. “But, the things that were done in the ‘90s are totally different than the things that are done today. And, anybody that wants to criticize me for what the Federal Reserve is doing today because that’s the kind of narrow-sighted incorrect view of my experience on the Federal Reserve. I can’t say ‘I’m sorry I served on the Federal Reserve.’ That’s just simply not going to happen.”
Cain said that he wouldn’t oppose an audit of the Federal Reserve but wouldn’t make that a priority by any means. “I never said I would block an audit of the Federal Reserve,” Cain said. “What I have said is, if somebody wants to audit the Federal Reserve, go ahead. Secondly, I don’t think you’re going to find anything. Thirdly, it’s not going to be my issue. You’re not going to have that on Herman Cain’s top 20 things that he’s going to do as president.”
Cain also said that though he’d consider a vice presidential bid if he doesn’t win the nomination, he’s most certainly not gunning for the number two spot now.
“It would depend upon who got the nomination, it would depend upon what role that they saw for me and it would depend upon whether it was the right thing for me,” Cain said. “Now, to be clear, I’m not running for VP. I’m running to get the nomination to become president.”