Herman Cain tested the national spotlight Sunday as the Republican presidential primary’s newest front-runner.
Facing tough questions during a 25-minute one-on-one interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Cain acknowledged that his plan to simplify the tax code would raise taxes for “some” people and clarified his position that he doesn’t believe abortion should be an option in instances of rape and incest.
Scrapping the current federal tax code — which he described as a “10-million-word mess” — would eliminate a host of invisible taxes and eventually reduce prices, Cain said.
Some economists have pointed out that Cain’s plan would shift the tax burden further from the rich to the poor and middle class.
“Some people will pay more. But most people will pay less,” said the former Godfather’s Pizza executive and a former chairman of the board of directors for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City when pressed by host David Gregory about the effects of his tax plan.
Cain said the biggest appeal of his plan is its simplicity. The plan calls for a 9% personal income tax, a 9% corporate tax, and a 9% federal sales tax.
Video game enthusiasts have pointed out that Cain’s plan is the same tax schedule used in the computer game SimCity 4.
When asked how he would get the “9-9-9" plan through Congress, Cain said he would drum up public support.
“The American people understand it and are going to demand it,” he said.
Citing the simplicity of his positions and his conservative credentials, Cain said he doesn’t think his front-runner status will peter out like other GOP candidates who surged in the polls only to fade away earlier this year.
“I don’t think Herman Cain will be a flavor of the week,” he said.
Donald Trump led polls in April and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann took the lead in July. Trump dropped out of the race and Bachmann has trailed in the last few months. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has slumped since topping the polls in August.
During the interview, Cain spoke of his “humble” background and his family’s work ethic. His mother worked as a maid, his father was a barber, janitor and chauffeur. Cain said he understands “main street” economics and has run a small business, made pizzas and hamburgers and kept an inventory.
When asked if race was a factor in his campaign, Cain, who is African American, said no. Black supporters are drawn to him, “not because of my color but because of my ideas,” Cain said.
Given the opportunity, Cain did not back down from an earlier statement that “the objective of the liberals is to destroy this country.”
“They [liberals] do not believe in a stronger America, in my opinion,” said Cain when Gregory asked him to explain the comment.
Cain said he does not agree with abortion “under any circumstances.” In cases of rape and incest, “there are other options,” he said.
Cain implied that an abortion might be appropriate in an emergency, when the procedure would save the life of the mother. “The family is going to have to make that decision,” he said.
An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Wednesday showed Cain was the first choice for the Republican presidential nomination for 27% of voters. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney followed with 23% and Perry was next at 16%.
When asked what distinguishes him from Romney, Cain said, “He has been more of a Wall Street executive, I have been more of a main street executive.”