Cain Begins Work of Getting His Name Out

Posted May 22, 2011 at 9:06am

Updated: 11:03 a.m.

Herman Cain, the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO who announced Saturday that he will run for the GOP presidential nomination, emphasized his conservative bona fides on fiscal issues in an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.”

The interview was an important one for Cain, who only garnered 29 percent name recognition among Republicans in a recent Gallup poll.

His previous foray into politics was a failed 2004 Senate bid in Georgia. He is viewed as a long-shot candidate in the White House race, although some believe he could emerge as a legitimate competitor in a field that lacks a strong frontrunner.

Cain called for repealing the federal income tax and replacing it with a national sales tax. He also criticized Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and the Obama administration for waiting too long to address the debt ceiling, which the nation reached last week.

“This is part of the problem,” Cain said Sunday. “They wait until a problem is at a disaster point and then go to the American people and say, ‘We have no choice.’ That’s not leadership.”

Cain added that his proposal would have been to avoid raising the debt ceiling by paying the interest on the debt, taking “care of our military and their families,” paying Social Security and Medicare, and then looking at all other spending for cuts. But he said it was now too late for his plan to work.

Host Chris Wallace pushed Cain on foreign policy issues, including Israel and Afghanistan, but the candidate appeared much less comfortable on that terrain.

“Where do you stand on the right of return?” Wallace asked Cain, referring to Palestinians’ desire to return to areas in Israel that they inhabited before the Israeli-Arab wars in 1948 and 1967.

“The right of return? The right of return?” Cain replied, appearing not to be familiar with the term.

Cain also said he wouldn’t take a stand on policy on Afghanistan until he saw all the intelligence on the issue. He added that he would craft a plan on America’s involvement in Central Asia between the time he was elected president and the time he was sworn into office.

Lauren W. Whittington contributed to this report.