Cain defends smoking ad, says 9-9-9 plan never changed

Republican presidential front-runner Herman Cain on Sunday defended his team's unusual ad featuring his campaign manager smoking a cigarette, but clarified that he does not think smoking is cool.

Bob Schieffer, the host of CBS’s “Face the Nation,” told Cain he was offended by the ad, which showed Cain’s chief of staff, Mark Block, smoking. He said the ad sent a subliminal pro-smoking message.

“Mark Block smokes. That’s all that ad says. We weren’t trying to say it’s cool to smoke,” Cain said.

But, pressed further, he took a formal anti-smoking stance.

“It is not a cool thing to do … smoking is not a cool thing to do,” Cain said.

Cain also pushed back against the narrative that he has changed his signature 9-9-9 economic plan. 

As Cain has surged in the polls, his critics have said changing the 9-9-9 plan so early makes clear that Cain isn’t ready for primetime.

Cain recently referred to the plan as 9-0-9 because it would not require people at or below the federal poverty level to pay the new 9 percent national income tax. But he said Sunday that was always part of the plan.

“It was already in the analysis and it was misreported that I changed it,” Cain said.