Cain sees a 'deficiency of leadership crisis in the White House'

Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO and radio personality Herman Cain laid out policy positions and called for “common-sense solutions” in a keynote speech Saturday before a group of conservative activists.

Like the other presidential hopefuls who spoke at the two-day Faith and Freedom Coalition conference, Cain sought to underscore his conservative credentials, and he took on President Obama's leadership.

“We have become a nation of crises,” he said. “And we have a severe deficiency of leadership crisis in the White House.” 

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Speaking to the largely evangelical crowd, Cain invoked Scripture from the beginning and related spiritual experiences when explaining what inspired him to run for the White House. He cited his desire to “make this world a better world” for his grandchildren, as well as his struggle with cancer five years ago.

When asked in a brief interview with The Hill if he considers himself a social or fiscal conservative candidate, he said that “those are just labels.” He cited his opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion and emphasized his business credentials, asserting that he was both.

Cain, who has never held elected office, addressed questions of his lack of foreign policy experience by claiming that Obama lacked those credentials, too.

“Reporters like to ding me that I don’t have any foreign policy experience," Cain said. "Uh, does the current president have any?”

He criticized the Obama administration for having a “foggy foreign policy” and said that his position on Israel would be straightforward. 

“The Cain doctrine would be real simple when it comes to Israel: You mess with Israel, you mess with the United States of America,” he said to a long standing ovation.

The pizza mogul’s only other run for elected office was for a Senate seat in Georgia in 2004. He won only 26 percent of the primary vote and lost to current Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.).

Cain was tied for second place among possible Republican presidential candidates with Sarah Palin in a new PPP poll of Iowa voters, and a Gallup poll showed him in fifth place overall with 8 percent support. Cain placed ahead of more well-known candidates including Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.), former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

Cain drew that 8 percent despite having name recognition among only one-third of Republican voters, according to Gallup, indicating a small but highly enthusiastic base.

The unexpectedly high turnout at his official candidacy announcement May 21 was demonstrative of his quickly growing bloc of support, he told ABC’s “Top Line” on Friday. 

“We were expecting only about 5,000 of my closest friends. 15,000 of my closest friends showed up, and that… got a lot of people’s attention,” he said.

Asked by The Hill about the other candidates in the primary field, Cain declined to comment on their strengths or weaknesses. “I’m not talking about the other candidates, because that’s counterproductive,” he said. 

But near the end of his speech, he appeared confident that he would ultimately prevail in the Republican primary. 

“November 2012, we’re going for the trifecta. We’re going to increase control of the House, take over the Senate and have a conservative in the White House. And I have a feeling it’s going to be a President Herman Cain in the White House,” he declared.