Herman Cain addresses 9-9-9, but not sexual harassment claims, at AEI

Herman Cain, speaking to an audience at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Monday morning, said his continued success in the polls is because “the flavor of the week has become the flavor of the month and it still tastes good.”

“The people have propelled my candidacy. I’m not the party favorite,” said Cain. “The momentum is coming from the grassroots.”

The event, which was just scheduled on Friday, was meant to address Cain’s 9-9-9 tax plan. The choice of topic was strictly enforced by AEI; questions about anything outside 9-9-9 were strictly forbidden.

The appearance at AEI came just hours after Politico published a story Sunday night reporting that Cain was accused of sexual harassment by two female employees when he was the head of the National Restaurant Association.

AEI says Cain did not request the restriction on questions and that it was their policy before the Politico story was published last night.

“Kevin Hassett as head of AEI’s economic policy studies team decided that – as planned – we would devote the questions to tax ones,” said Veronique Rodman, AEI’s director for public affairs. She added that AEI determined the event “was a great opportunity to really get into the tax plan and that Cain and the media would have lots of other opportunities to discuss other topics.”

Some thought AEI handled the event poorly.

The Post’s conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin tweeted, “AEI looks foolish doing this...like they are part of Cain campaign without asking anything remotely hard.”

The 9-9-9 plan would replace the current U.S. tax system with a 9 percent business tax, a 9 percent personal income tax and a 9 percent national sales tax.

Cain said the goal of his 9-9-9 plan was to keep it simple.

“If Americans understand it, they will demand it,” he said.

Allen McDuffee writes about politics and policy and covered think tanks for The Washington Post from 2011 to 2013. He blogs and hosts a podcast at governmentality.net and is currently working on a book about the influence of think tanks in Washington.

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