And that has prompted questions about what else he stands for and whether he has the breadth of knowledge — particularly on foreign policy — expected of an occupant of the White House.
An examination of Cain’s words — his remarks as a radio talk-show host, as well as his writings, interviews and speeches — shows a man thoroughly steeped in conservative ideology. He has said that climate change is a scam, that he would not have survived cancer under the Obama administration’s health-care overhaul, and that the United States is on the brink of a socialist takeover.
In the style of an evangelist who can bring audiences to their feet, Cain has used his soapboxes to rebut criticism of the tea party movement, berate liberals and President Obama, and defend conservatives and Republicans against accusations of racism.
Reforming the tax code has been a keen interest since his days as the chief executive of Godfather’s Pizza in the 1990s. But outside of his tax ideas, Cain rarely gets into specifics. That is partly in keeping with his style of connecting with voters by communicating his ideas in basic, catchy terms.
“If you understand the simple concepts,” Cain writes in his recently published book, quoting an old teacher, “you will be able to deal with the complex concepts.”
It is also in keeping with his candor and the everyman persona he has cultivated on the campaign trail. Conservative audiences have found something compelling in his story, that of an African American who grew up in the segregated South and rose to become a successful business executive. And they have been energized by his passionate, humor-laced speeches.
In recent interviews, Cain has called it hubris to claim to know the minutiae of every major issue.
He has extolled the importance of leaders surrounding themselves with able advisers (though he has demurred when asked who his advisers are). He has shown repeatedly that, when faced with a tough question, he is not afraid to admit he doesn’t know the answer.
Asked during a campaign stop in New Hampshire this week about a specific deduction under his tax plan, he replied: “I have no idea. But it’s a good question.”
Cain offers a nine-page position paper he calls the “Cain Doctrine” in his book, “This is Herman Cain! My Journey to the White House,” which was published this month. In it, he proposes empowering states to resolve on their own challenges with illegal immigration, promoting greater domestic energy production and encouraging vigilance against the Islamic principles known as sharia law, which he warns could “seep into American life.”
He pledges support for Israel, but says he has too little information to opine on the war in Afghanistan or on events unfolding in other nations.