Poverty ambassadors blast Herman Cain's views on racism
October 10th, 2011
06:44 PM ET
3 years ago

Poverty ambassadors blast Herman Cain's views on racism

Washington (CNN) – GOP hopeful Herman Cain drew concern from some black opinion elites Monday after expressing his views on racism and how it affects the upward mobility of African Americans.

"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, the only African-American vying for the Republican slot on the 2012 ticket,  told CNN's Candy Crowley on Sunday's "State of the Union."

Appearing Monday on "CNN Newsroom," PBS host Tavis Smiley and Princeton University Professor Dr. Cornell West –the brain trust for the 18-city "Poverty Tour" that aims to highlight the plight of poor people– begged to differ.

"There are disparities in this country in every [socioeconomic] factor that we follow.  In every aspect of our human endeavors in this country there is a racial disparity element that's a part of it. It's almost silly to respond to [Cain] because the evidence is so overwhelming," Smiley said in the interview with CNN anchor Suzanne Malveaux.

"There's disparity in healthcare. There's disparity economically."

West, taking a sharper route, also challenged Cain's understanding of the economic issues that affect black Americans, saying, "Black people have been working hard for decades. I think [Cain] needs to get off the symbolic crack pipe and acknowledge the evidence is overwhelming."

According to a survey released Monday by the Institute of Politics at Harvard University and the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint-Anselm College, 20% of likely Republican primary voters in the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire said they would definitely or probably vote for Cain. In this poll, the former businessman and conservative radio talk show host came in second after former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Steady at the number 2 spot, Cain fared similarly in another New Hampshire state poll released Friday, and again in a national survey released Monday. These polls show his stock in the GOP presidential nominating field is rising.

Smiley referenced this political shift, saying that Cain's comments about the insignificance of racism can be attributed, in part, to how these views will resonate with Republican voters.

"Herman Cain is trying to get the GOP nomination," Smiley said. "When you're running for the nomination of a Republican Party…these are the kind of statements that you make that play to your base. It's politics."

Smiley continued, saying that President Barack Obama's rendezvous with racism should be noted.

"There's no comparison in history for any president that's had a budget the size of the Secret Service budget now just to protect Barack Obama and we're talking about whether or not [Cain] has a point about racism in America?"


Filed under: GOP • Herman Cain
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. emma

    How bout alienating oneself against ones own brothers? Unspeakable for someone who insists he wants to be US president. Mr Cain, you are in the wrong era to be our Moses.

    October 10, 2011 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  2. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    Gee, Herb... Did it ever occur to you that you actually CAUGHT the breaks that others didn't? Perhaps you should thank God or your lucky stars or... rather than BERATE those that didn't catch the breaks. What a heartless pig!!

    October 10, 2011 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  3. ANGY

    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.

    And this is the best answer ever!!
    Princeton University Professor Dr. Cornell West:
    "Black people have been working hard for decades. I think [Cain] needs to get off the symbolic crack pipe and acknowledge the evidence is overwhelming."

    AMEN!!!!!

    October 10, 2011 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  4. yolanda

    What, nothing from the master mind Jesse Jackson? He must be busy shaking down businesses.

    October 10, 2011 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  5. anthony78

    Herman Cain = the new Michael Steele.
    Jon Stewart needs a Cain character similar to the one he used for Steele. But maybe the Swedish Chef character (a black version) selling pizzas.

    Obama is gonna destroy this traitor.

    October 10, 2011 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  6. Greg

    Cain is not the only African American vying for the GOP nomination. How difficult is it to research an article before you publish it? You may not take him seriously, but Jimmy McMillan is African American, and is a declared candidate for the GOP nomination. Maybe if the press spent more time reporting the facts, and less time trying to shape opinion, you'd have known that.

    October 10, 2011 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  7. Kenneth the VI of Minneapolis

    Politics 101: Say what your base want to hear......if I were in Mr. Cain's shoes, I would say the same thing.
    Obama 2012.

    October 10, 2011 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  8. Don

    Man, you Dems just go nuts when a Black Man leaves the liberal plantation. Cain’s story is exhilarating and you liberals should rejoice in his success. White or black, we can all learn from his achievements which came from good old fashioned hard work, and perseverance. I am quickly becoming a believer that he has the stuff to be a great President.

    October 10, 2011 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  9. zip

    If you think this guy is going to be the Republican nominee, you are seriously deluded.

    October 10, 2011 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  10. Georgia Tee

    There should not be anymore questions about this America, Herman Cain , and every other teapublican have loss touch with the middle class, and reality....

    October 10, 2011 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  11. Larry L

    I voted for President Obama and I've been proud of his performance in the face of tremendous obstacles. As an old, grumpy, white, Texan I didn't vote for him because of his race but rather his talent and compassion for all Americans. These are the same reasons I will not vote for Mr. Cain.

    October 10, 2011 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |