A telling moment occurred after the GOP presidential debate in Tampa two weeks ago.
In a place called the Spin Room, where spokespeople and high-profile supporters told reporters how well their candidate did in the preceding two hours, Herman Cain strode forth to face the press himself.
It wasn’t for a lack of spokespeople. His communications director was there, unnoticed to one side.
Rather it’s just how Cain prefers things _ simple and direct.
His simple, direct, way is taking hold in Florida, where Cain won a straw poll of Republican voters in Orlando over the weekend, garnering more votes than presumed frontrunners Mitt Romney and Rick Perry combined.
It was on display earlier this summer, when Cain spoke to a few dozen prospective supporters at a restaurant on Fifth Avenue South.
“I know I am depressing you all,” Cain told the group as he ran down the litany of problems facing America. “But somebody’s got to tell you the truth.”
His win in Orlando seems to have surprised everyone but him. “People say you can’t change Washington, D.C. Well, watch me,” he told the Naples group.
Cain, who lists talk show host on his resume along with chairman of Godfather’s Pizza and chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, is comfortable in front of a microphone. He doesn’t mind mixing it up with reporters.
But Cain is more than a blunt-talking businessman making the most of his outsider status.
He actually has a specific plan regarding the economy and taxes. At a stage in the race where eight candidates compete in a debate for the best sound bite, Cain’s 999 plan has gotten scant attention.
Straw poll results are poor predictor of the eventual winner of a state primary but Cain’s camp hopes that, at the very least, the boost in notoriety Cain is enjoying will give him a chance to expose more people to the plan.
It calls initially for a flat tax rate of 9 percent on personal income, 9 percent on corporate profits and a 9 percent national sales tax.
Eventually, Cain would eliminate all payroll taxes in favor of the Fair Tax concept, a national sales tax that would be administered by the agencies that already collect sales tax for the states, thus eliminating the need for the Internal Revenue Service.
Cain would also end taxes on capital gains, or profits made on investments. Those profits could be reinvested in other businesses if not for the tax burden associated with moving them from one investment to another, he reasons. “The capital gains tax is a wall separating those with ideas from those with money. Why would we want to wall off those with ideas? That’s where we get business formation, job creation and innovation.”
He would also end the tax on profits made by companies doing business overseas then brought back to America. “When companies sell products overseas they face double taxation when those profits are brought home to invest in America and pay its workers.”
With his profile elevated by his Orlando showing, Cain in recent days has challenged President Barack Obama’s rhetoric on higher taxes for the rich, calling it, “B.S.,” only not confining himself to using the abbreviation.
He also disputed actor Morgan Freeman’s assertion that tea party members’ prime motivation for seeking to oust Obama from office is racism.
Whether you agree with him or not, he’s doing it himself, not through a spokesman.
The only person spinning for Herman Cain is Herman Cain. That, in itself, is remarkable.
Connect with Brent Batten at naplesnews.com/staff/brent_batten