CNN's Lemon Asks Herman Cain If He 'Stands a Chance' With 'Mostly-White Party In a Mostly-White State'

Live from the Iowa State Fair, CNN's Don Lemon asked Republican presidential nominee Herman Cain if he could win the Iowa vote for the Republican nomination and for president, given that Cain belongs to a "mostly-white party" and is campaigning in a "mostly-white state."

Lemon had said the two had a "passionate conversation" prior to going on air, where he asked Cain "do you think in a party – in a mostly-white party in a mostly-white state, did you really stand a chance, not only of a nomination, of becoming President?"

Later in the interview, Lemon also pressed Cain over comments he made about the Mormon faith of candidates Mitt Romney and John Huntsman. Cain had said that many Americans don't understand the Mormon faith, and so would be suspicious of the Mormon faith of candidates Huntsman and Romney.

Cain defended his comments and hit back at the media for trying to create a rift between Romney and Huntsman. "This is an attempt to sensationalize something that I don't even think exists between these two guys," he remarked.

A partial transcript of the interview, which aired on August 12 at 12:02 p.m. EDT, is as follows:

DON LEMON: Speaking over on the soapbox, and really giving some interesting – and straightforward talk. And we had a – let's say a passionate conversation afterwards. And the reason we did is because you said you were an against-all-odds person, and quite honestly I said to you do you think in a party – in a mostly-white party in a mostly-white state, did you really stand a chance, not only of a nomination, of becoming President?

HERMAN CAIN, GOP presidential candidate: I really think that I have a chance of – getting the nomination, becoming President, because my experience from 2004, when I ran for the United States Senate, and I've traveled to all 159 counties in Georgia, color didn't matter. It wasn't about color.

LEMON: You will be up against someone who has a majority of the African-American vote, and who has – will have, probably, the majority of the liberal vote.

CAIN: Let's just say he temporarily has the majority of the African-American vote. Based upon my experience of being on the radio for five years, I know that is changing. And so I don't believe he's going to capture the majority of the African-American vote if I – when I get the nomination.

LEMON: You had a very tough back-and-forth last night, I have to say, explaining what you meant about Sharia Law and about mosques should be banned, should be able to be banned in the United States. Do you want to clarify or talk about that?

CAIN: Absolutely. First of all, what I said originally, and what I intended got misconstrued, which happens sometimes when it goes from story to story to story. Here's my position. Number one, I believe in the First Amendment. Number two, I believe in freedom of religion in America. We are a nation that recognizes and appreciates all religions. However, if there is a part of a religion that is going to basically try and change our culture or hurt this nation, I'm going to be the first one to stand in the way. And so this is why I was emphatic about the fact that if there's an element out there that wants Sharia Law to be considered in the courts of the United States of America, I'm against that. American laws in American courts.

LEMON: Should mosques be able to be banned in the United States?

CAIN: Not categorically, no. It depends on what it's being used for. Not all of them necessarily are being used for just religious purposes.

LEMON: All right, I want to talk about religion. Because Mormonism as well, you said people didn't understand Mitt Romney, and about John Huntsman, religion. The New York Magazine calls them Cain and Abel, two brothers, Cain and Abel of American politics. Mitt Romney, John Huntsman are rich Mormon ex-governors who can't stand each other either might be able to beat Obama, but only if they don't kill each other first. You had to talk about that, because you said most people don't understand Mormonism and you didn't believe that they still have a chance.

CAIN: Well I know, having grown up in the South, and living in the South then, that many of them don't understand the Mormon religion. That's not my problem. I don't have a problem with it. But, now, go back to this article that you just showed. This is an attempt to sensationalize something that I don't even think exists between these two guys. And so the fact that they are trying to turn this into a story – I don't think the American people are going to fall for it.

LEMON: You don't regret your comments about people not knowing about this –

CAIN: No! No, because it's true. I mean, I've had people tell me this. So I was basically reflecting what people have told me, that's all. They don't really understand it, and when people don't understand something, they are suspicious of something.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014