Stepping off a plane from Israel at 5:30 a.m., a jet-lagged Herman Cain swung through the state Capitol today, announcing himself to lawmakers in the House and Senate this way:
“My name is HermanCain.com, and I’m running for president.”
Introduced at a following press conference by freshman state Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, the GOP candidate promised to be a true friend of Israel, decried the “foggy foreign policy” of President Barack Obama, pitched his 9-9-9 tax reform plan as a precursor to the Fair Tax, and picked up endorsements from two more state legislators.
They were state Reps. Rusty Kidd, an independent from Milledgeville, and Billy Maddox, R-Zebulon.
Cain expressed resentment at attempts to place him in a second tier of candidates in a Republican field now dominated by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota; and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
“Some in the media are trying to narrow this down to three candidates. It is disconcerting, yes,” Cain said. “What I would hope is that it will not discourage people from looking at myself and other candidates.”
The candidate said he had no fear of the field growing even wider. “Cain supporters don’t defect. So I’m not worried about another politician getting into the race,” he said.
A CNN reporter also asked Cain about recent comments by U.S. Rep. Andre Carson, D-Ind., who said that some members of Congress affiliated with the tea party consider African-Americans to be “second-class citizens” and wouldn’t mind seeing them “hanging from a tree.”
Cain’s response was sharp.
“Those remarks are disgraceful. Those remarks are a distraction. Those kinds of remarks are intended to discourage citizens from speaking their voice through the tea party movement,” Cain said. “If there were racism in the tea party movement, I would be one of the first people to recognize it. I grew up in Georgia before the Civil Rights movement, during the Civil Rights movement, after the Civil Rights movement.
“I would know racism if I saw it. I have not seen it, nor have I experienced it in the tea party movement,” Cain said.
The topic of race and the tea party wasn’t new. But Cain’s answer reminded me that, only a few minutes before, the 65-year-old presidential candidate had been introduced to the House by Speaker David Ralston, who noted Cain’s status as a Georgia native.
Cain graduated from Morehouse College in 1967 with a degree in mathematics. Then he left the state for Purdue University and a masters degree in computer science.
In the state Capitol, the omission in the resume screams out. “Did you ever apply to the University of Georgia for admission?” I asked Cain after the press conference.
“I did,” the presidential candidate said. “And Georgia Tech, too.” The year was 1963. He was rejected by both institutions, even though he’d graduated second in his class at Archer High School in Atlanta.
Only two years earlier, the University of Georgia had admitted its first black students, Charlayne Hunter and Hamilton Holmes. “They still had a quota system, and were keeping admission tight. I didn’t make the cut,” he said.
But his daughter graduated from the University of Georgia in 1994, Cain said. “What makes this nation great is its ability to change,” he said.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider