CBS to Herman Cain: Congratulations on the Win, Why Not Drop Out?

On Wednesday's Early Show, CBS's Chris Wragge complimented GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain for his recent win in the Florida straw poll, but then wasted little time in throwing cold water on the future of his campaign. Wragge, along with co-anchor Erica Hill, asked why Cain would "stick with it," and wondered if the Republican could compete if Gov. Chris Christie entered the race.

The two anchors began the segment by heralding the former Godfather's Pizza CEO's "surprise over the weekend" and how he "shook up the GOP race on Saturday, winning the Florida straw poll with more votes than Rick Perry and Mitt Romney combined." Wragge then congratulated Cain and asked, "Someone like Sarah Palin says late last night that you're the flavor of the week. How do you respond to something like that?"

Once the Republican gave his initial answer, Hill followed up by casting doubt on her guest's candidacy: "A number of the Republicans who voted in that poll...said, you know, we really don't expect him to be able to go on and be the nominee....[Y]ou thought a couple times about dropping out, and most people would say- look, you may have something people respond to, but your chances of actually getting that nomination- pretty slim. So why stick with it then?"

The two following questions from the anchors also questioned Cain's ability to reach out to voters:

Erica Hill, CBS News Anchor; Chris Wragge, CBS News Anchor; & Herman Cain, 2012 Republican Presidential Candidate | NewsBusters.orgWRAGGE: You said you would be able to peel off one-third of the African-American vote in a general election. In 2008, President Obama received 96% of the African-American vote. Obviously, this is a solidly Democratic block. How do you propose to do that? I mean, that is kind of going out there on a limb, to say that you can do that as a Republican....

HILL: ...[T]here are a number of Americans- not all of them Republicans, but many Republicans who are saying we still need someone else in this race, and that is someone is Governor Chris Christie- of course, getting a lot of traction. If he were to jump in the race- A., as a Republican, do you think that would be a good move; and, B., what does it do to your candidacy and your chances?

The full transcript of Chris Wragge and Eric Hill's interview of Herman Cain from Wednesday's Early Show, which began three minutes into the 8 am Eastern hour:

ERICA HILL: One man who is dreaming big right now, especially after a surprise over the weekend, is Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain.

CHRIS WRAGGE: The former CEO of Godfather's Pizza shook up the GOP race on Saturday, winning the Florida straw poll with more votes than Rick Perry and Mitt Romney combined.

And Mr. Cain is with us here this morning. Good to see you here this morning-

HERMAN CAIN, 2012 REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you- delighted.

[CBS News Graphic: "Race For 2012: Herman Cain On Obama, Economy, And GOP Field"]

WRAGGE: Congratulations after the results over the weekend. Let me ask you this, though-

CAIN: Yes-

WRAGGE: Someone like Sarah Palin says late last night that you're the flavor of the week. How do you respond to something like that?

CAIN: Well, I would say that that's not true, first of all. The difference between me winning that straw poll and what we're going to do to leverage that is- it's a couple of things. Primarily, I have a message that's resonating with the American people, the voters. My economic growth and jobs plan- as you know, next to national security, the biggest thing on the minds of the American people, how do we generate jobs and grow this economy? I have been talking about my 9-9-9 plan. It's resonating because it's simple, it expands the base, and it's going to kick-start this economy. So, rather than being the flavor of the week, people are saying, ah! There is more to that flavor than meets the eye, and it's substance. And I'm going to continue to talk about solutions to some of these issues, rather than just talking about the issues.

HILL: We should point out, though, a number of the Republicans who voted in that poll- some 2,600-plus people- said, you know, we really don't expect him to be able to go on and be the nominee. This is a grueling endeavor, it is expensive. You mentioned recently, you thought a couple times about dropping out, and most people would say- look, you may have something people respond to, but your chances of actually getting that nomination- pretty slim. So why stick with it then?

CAIN: Well, you know, aerodynamically, the bumblebee is not supposed to fly, and that's the story of my life. But here's the other thing: there are two dynamics in this campaign that weren't around ten years ago, and I wouldn't have had a chance- number one, this massive citizens' movement that some people call the Tea Party movement. It's not just the Tea Party. Every organization is mobilizing its members to get involved and to get active. Secondly, the power of the Internet. We didn't have that ten years ago.

One of the reasons that I believe that I won that Florida straw poll; one of the reasons that I believe that, according to the latest Gallup positive intensity poll, I happen to come in first place on that; and just yesterday, Zogby announced that in their new national poll, I actually out-polled Rick Perry and Governor [Mitt] Romney. Why? Because of the power of the Internet. So people aren't just dependent on, with all due respect, the mainstream media for its information about who it is that they like and where you stand on the issues. And so, those two advantages give me a big advantage, in order to stay in this race.

WRAGGE: I want to talk to you about something that you said in an interview on Monday night, which gained some headlines here. You said you would be able to peel off one-third of the African-American vote in a general election. In 2008, President Obama received 96% of the African-American vote. Obviously, this is a solidly Democratic block. How do you propose to do that? I mean, that is kind of going out there on a limb, to say that you can do that as a Republican.


CAIN: I'm doing it based upon the feedback that I have gotten directly from black Americans who love my message. It has nothing to do with color. It's all about my message of growing this economy. People realize, whether you are a Democrat, Republican, or independent, that the biggest thing we need to do is to grow this economy, because if we don't get this economy growing the right way, then all of the things that we are arguing about and debating about- cutting and increasing taxes won't matter. So I know anecdotally from walking through the airport, e-mails that I get, people that are on my Facebook page, people- groups that are inviting me to speak that normally my might not have invited me to speak. So I happen to feel, based on direct feedback that I'm getting, and my own little focus group research that I do every day, that, in fact, many black Americans, like a lot of Americans, are thinking for themselves. Just like people are deciding- just like in Florida, the voters- they decided the winner of that poll, not the media.

HILL: A number of Americans are speaking out, thinking for themselves, and there are a number of Americans- not all of them Republicans, but many Republicans who are saying we still need someone else in this race, and that is someone is Governor Chris Christie- of course, getting a lot of traction. If he were to jump in the race- A., as a Republican, do you think that would be a good move; and, B., what does it do to your candidacy and your chances?

CAIN: If he jumps in the race, come on down as they say. Remember, the hype was the same before Governor Perry got into the race. So it doesn't bother me, and here's why: as you look at my campaign, it continues to build and build and build. It doesn't go down. Cain supporters do not defect, and the fact that we are where we are today is going to continue to build. They're not going to jump ship just because the media person- they want to be in it for purposes of the drama and all of the stories that you can write. No, the real voters out there are watching the Herman Cain campaign, and we're going to continue to build, and we're not change our tactics or our strategy.

WRAGGE: Mr. Cain, thanks for coming in this morning.

CAIN: It's a pleasure. Thank you. Happy to be here-

HILL: Nice to have you here.

WRAGGE: Good to see you.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center