By Frederick Cosby
Herman Cain, the only black candidate in the Republican presidential field, insisted over the weekend that race isn’t a major problem in America today and said that he’s serious about running for the White House even though he’s embarking on a tour to promote his book.
Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday and at a Values Voter Summit of conservative voters over the weekend, Cain minimized the issue of race in terms opportunities and employment.
“Luck’s when preparation meets opportunity. That’s what I’ve done all my career,” Cain told CNN’s Candy Crowley on “State of the Union.” “Second, I don’t believe racism in this country holds anybody back in a big way.”
Cain said he “absolutely” believes that the economic and employment playing field is level for blacks.
“I have seen blacks in middle management move up to top management in some of the biggest corporations in American,” Cain, former CEO of the Godfather’s Pizza chain, added. “They weren’t held back by race. No. People sometimes hold themselves back because they want to use racism as an excuse for them not being able to achieve what they want to achieve.”
Cain said the black unemployment rate – which is currently almost twice the national average and his been consistently higher than white joblessness through Democratic and Republican presidential administrations – is a symptom of failed economic policy.
“The gap is due to a number of factors,” Cain said. “One is a differential in education. Two is a concentration of a lot of blacks in certain areas like the city of Detroit where the unemployment rate is 14 percent versus the 9.1 percent we have nationally.”
Herman Cain’s unlikely campaign has been on fire lately. He finished first in a recent Florida straw poll and impressed attendees at the Values Voter Summit. He’s moved from the lower tier of the Republican field in some polls to the Top Three behind Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
But his campaign has not been without problems. He took heat for expressing reservations about having a Muslim cabinet member. He amended his remarks Sunday, saying he meant extremist jihadists. “I have nothing against peaceful Muslims,” he told Crowley.
He’s argued that people railing against the big banks for the country’s economic and employment woes shouldn’t blame Wall Street. “If you don’t have a job and you are not rich, blame yourself,” Cain said.
Cain called Perry’s his family naming a Texas hunting ranch they rented “Niggerhead” “insensitive.” But after conservative pundits, bloggers and talk radio show hosts accused Cain of playing the race card, he appeared to moonwalk away from his criticism.
And some in Cain’s own party are wondering whether he’s serious about seeking the White House or whether he’s more interested in making a buck because of a schedule chock full of dates to promote his book, “This is Herman Cain.” Some have accused him of spending more time at book signings at Barnes & Noble than campaigning in the barns of Iowa and New Hampshire.
Cain made his intentions clear to the Values Voter Summit, telling attendees he’s running “To be president! I’m not running to go to Disneyland!”
He told Crowley that he’s kept an active schedule in Iowa, visiting the first-in-the-nation caucus state 24 times, and expects to be even more visible as caucus and primary dates approach.
“And I can promote a book and campaign at the same time,” he said.