Who Is Herman Cain?
The outspoken corporate executive and Tea Party favorite explains why he could be the second black president.
HC: ObamaCare is socialized medicine. Under socialized medicine, the wait time that people have for critical tests like CT scans can be extensive. In some countries with socialized medicine, it can take as much as six months to get a CT scan.
In Canada, the number of CT scan machines per 1,000 people is like one-tenth of what we have here in this country. That's why people have to wait. When my cancer was first diagnosed and I had to get a colonoscopy, if I'd had to wait six months for a CT scan, my chances of survival would have been zero to nil because the cancer that they discovered was very aggressive. When I say that, that's assuming ObamaCare is fully implemented. So, with ObamaCare I probably wouldn't be living today. As of now, I have been totally cancer-free for five years.
TR: Congratulations on beating it.
HC: Thank you. It is a blessing from God. And God said, "Not yet." I said, "OK, God, why are you keeping me around?" He's still answering that question. It might be to run for president of the United States.
TR: In your only other bid for political office, you lost the 2004 U.S. Senate primary in Georgia. What lessons did you take away from that?
HC: First of all, I didn't lose; I just didn't win. There's a big difference. I came within two percentage points of forcing a runoff with then-Representative Isakson, with only a 50 percent name ID. He had over a 90 percent name ID. So the two big lessons that I learned: One, if I were to run again, start early. Second, if I were to run again, hire good people early. I've got an awesome team working with me in these early stages of this whole possibility of saying yes and running. It makes all the difference in the world.
TR: You're still "exploring" a presidential run. At what point will you be ready to declare whether or not you're officially in?
HC: I am not waiting on anyone else. I will make my decision within the next six to eight weeks, based upon some benchmarks that my team and I have established. So far we have hit four out of five majors that we wanted to hit in order to say, "Let's go forward." We've got one more that we need to hit.
I'm not going to identify what it is because I don't want my competition to know what I'm up to. But I can tell you right now, I don't doubt that we're going to hit it. We just have to hit it before we make our final decision.
TR: What are the four benchmarks that you've already hit?
HC: I'll give you two of them. One is the response by activists and grassroots people. I have gotten a strong reception with the Tea Party movement, the citizens' movement, and a lot of FairTax people are in my corner. The reason I won that straw poll that you referred to is because I have a strong ground game building. That was one of the things we were looking for.
Second, we've been able to generate considerable interest on the part of the alternative media. We have an Internet presence that is rivaled only by Sarah Palin, and that is because she is on a popularity road -- God bless her, and more power to her. But a lot of people don't realize that we have ways of measuring how commanding a presence I have with the Internet world. So those are two of our benchmarks that have exceeded our expectations, and we have one more river to cross.
TR: You have a strong ground game, but what reception have you gotten from the Republican establishment? Do you think they'd work with or against you as a candidate?
HC: I believe they will work with me as I gain momentum. The good news is they have not tried to get in my way or discourage me. When I ran for the United States Senate back in 2004, designated hitters came to me that were part of the Republican establishment, and they tried to talk me out of running. They had already decided who they wanted to be the Republican nominee in Georgia.
The Republicans for a long time have played "Whose Turn Is It." That's why they keep losing. I don't believe in "Whose Turn Is It." You have to look at what is needed for the party and the country at that particular point in time. But they have not tried to discourage me or create any impediment, and that's all I ask at this point. Let's let the power of the people speak.
Cynthia Gordy is The Root's Washington reporter.