ABC's Good Morning America welcomed Herman Cain to the top tier of the Republican presidential field on Thursday with a video of him being stumped by a New Hampshire voter over whether or not there was a sales tax in the state.
Co-host George Stephanopoulos reported that "Pizza mogul Herman Cain" was "now at the top of the pack," according to a new poll, and ABC News White House correspondent Jake Tapper affirmed Cain's status as top-dog in a "very, very volatile Republican race." Then Tapper ran a segment which began with a gaffe from Cain. [Video below the break. Click here for audio.]
"Cain seemed caught unaware," Tapper noted of the candidate's being questioned by a New Hampshire voter over his tax plan, which would include a nationwide sales tax – something New Hampshire doesn't have. The voter had to correct Cain on that matter, as he seemed ignorant of the fact.
ABC's reporting on Cain's gaffe can be contrasted with media ignorance of then-candidate Barack Obama's slip-up in May of 2008, where he told an Oregon audience that he had campaigned in 57 states.
What did not appear on GMA was something that Tapper has reported on and even pressed the White House about – but which has not yet been reported on television by ABC News.
Obama's 2012 campaign manager had said in an e-mail that Republicans wanted to block the President's jobs bill because "Their strategy is to suffocate the economy for the sake of what they think will be a political victory." Tapper blogged about this on ABCNews.com, noting tongue-in-cheek that it was "Not quite in keeping with the president’s post-Tucson plea for a new tone, but we’re probably way past that."
Tapper followed that blog up the next day with a question to White House press secretary Jay Carney about the comments. However, ABC News has yet to broadcast anything about the remarks.
The bit of Obama news that did make it onto GMA was quite positive. Tapper rounded out the his segment by touting President Obama's impressive fundraising numbers for the last quarter. "The Obama campaign has reported $42.8 million have been raised in the final quarter, putting them far ahead of anyone in the Republican pack," Tapper reported.
A transcript of the segment, which aired on October 13 at 7:06 a.m. EDT, is as follows:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay we're going to turn now to politics, "Your Voice Your Vote." And the latest candidate to excite the Tea Party is now at the top of the pack. Pizza mogul Herman Cain has now edged ahead of Mitt Romney in at least one major national poll. Does he have staying power, or will he be the next GOP phenom to fade in the spotlight? ABC's Jake Tapper has more on this from Washington. Jake, we knew Cain had momentum, but I was surprised to see just how much.
JAKE TAPPER, ABC News White House correspondent: That's right, George. This poll is absolutely stunning. In this brand new poll Cain leads the pack with 27 percent, Romney holding steady in the low 20's, at his heels with 23 percent. Rick Perry has plummeted, he only has 16 percent. George, this is a very, very volatile Republican race.
TAPPER: (voice-over) Meet the new Republican front-runner –
HERMAN CAIN, GOP presidential candidate: Herman Cain.
TAPPER: At a diner in New Hampshire, a voter confronted Cain about one of the reasons for his popularity, his catchy "999" tax plan, a flat rate of 9 percent for income and corporate tax, and a new 9 percent sales tax. Cain seemed caught unaware.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I'll tell you, in New Hampshire people don't like sales tax.
CAIN: I know.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You say the word "sales tax" in New Hampshire and it's a –
CAIN: Understand. But don't confuse the New Hampshire sales tax with this. Because you're going to have to pay that anyway.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: New Hampshire doesn't have a sales tax.
CAIN: Well –
MITT ROMNEY, Republican presidential candidate: I'm still – I'm still speaking.
TAPPER: But instead of pushing back on Cain, Mitt Romney is focusing much of his attention on Rick Perry, figuring the Texas governor ultimately will be the tougher challenger.
LAURA INGRAHAM, radio talk show host: Governor Mitt Romney, on the Laura Ingraham Show. A lot more to get –
TAPPER: On the Laura Ingraham Radio Show, Romney continued to take umbrage with Rick Perry's refusal to denounce –
Pastor ROBERT JEFFRESS: Rick Perry!
TAPPER: – a prominent supporter who introduced Perry and suggested Romney, a Mormon, is not a true Christian. And –
JEFFRESS: Mormonism is a cult –
ROMNEY: I think that's just the wrong direction for the country, and not within the spirit of our nation's heritage.
TAPPER: Perry says he does not believe Mormonism is a cult, but he's refused to go any further, feeding criticism he's tolerant of the intolerant.
The question for Romney is whether instead of continuing to assail Perry for the pastor's comments, he needs to start focusing more on Cain. Or is Cain just another flavor of the week at the Republican Baskin Robbins? Like Perry, or Michelle Bachmann, or Donald Trump, Chris Christie, Mitch Daniels, and on and on. Cain insists he's not.
CAIN: No, because there's a difference between the flavor of the week and Haagen Dazs Black Walnut, because it tastes good all the time.
(End Video Clip)
TAPPER: For its part, the Obama campaign held a conference call in which senior advisor David Axelrod attacked Mitt Romney, saying that the Republican challengers were not doing a good enough job.
And George, some other breaking news. The Obama campaign has reported $42.8 million have been raised in the final quarter, putting them far ahead of anyone in the Republican pack. George?