Cain wins straw poll

William Evans

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain visited the University of Alabama Saturday, Oct. 29, for the West Alabama State Straw Poll as part of his tour of the state of Alabama.

The straw poll was held in the Bryant Conference Center, and the participating audience was comprised mainly of supporters of Cain and fellow Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, who sent a delegate to speak on his behalf. Cain won the straw poll with 51% of the 347 votes.

In his speech, Cain supported the tough immigration law recently instituted in Alabama.

“Under the Cain presidency, the Justice Department would not be suing Alabama,” he said. “The Justice Department would be helping Alabama.”

Although the audience universally applauded his stance on immigration, the audience vocalized its differences in opinion when Cain reached the topic of his economic agenda.

When Cain began to explain why the economy is in a slump, a Paul supporter shouted, “the Federal Reserve.” Paul believes the Federal Reserve, the central bank of the United States, to be responsible for fueling volatile boom-bust cycles in the economy. Supporters of Paul that had booed Cain upon entering the Conference Center cheered on the lady who made the remark.

“With all due respect, I’m going to give this speech today,” Cain said. “Our biggest domestic issue is not the Federal Reserve, it’s this economy that’s on life support and we’ve got to do something to get this economy off life support. But since you brought up the Federal Reserve, I’m going to say this real quick. I do not believe we need to end the Fed. I think we can fix the Fed and that’s all I’m going to say about that.”

Cain continued to remonstrate with the audience to let him speak because some kept booing him.

“Now are you all going to let me do my speech or not?” he asked. “All I’m asking for is the respect for me to give my comments and my speech.”

The rest of the speech went on undisturbed.

He said the nation has been “hijacked” and has been hurled into multiple crises the current Obama administration cannot handle.

“We have an economic crisis,” he said. “We have a spending crisis. We have an energy crisis. We have an illegal immigration crisis. We have a foggy foreign policy crisis. We have a moral crisis.”

Cain, the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, has upheld his viability as a presidential candidate by pointing to his business success.

“But the good news is we can fix stuff,” he said. “That’s the difference between a businessman and a politician. We can fix stuff.”

Cain has been criticized as lacking foreign policy experience. He responded by saying that what he lacks in experience he makes up for in the clarity of his foreign policy.

“The Reagan policy was peace through strength,” he said. “The Cain policy is peace through strength and clarity.

“We must clarify who our friends are and stop sending money to our enemies.”

He said the Obama administration has exacerbated the economic crisis by valuing federal spending above the free market.

“This administration does not understand a basic, fundamental economic principle and that is that the engine of economic growth is the business sector, not government,” he said. “That’s not going to bring down unemployment and it’s not going to give businesses the certainty that they need in order to get back into growth mode.”

Cain said he would begin to revitalize the economy by discarding the current tax code and implementing his 9-9-9 plan, which calls for a nine percent business tax, a nine percent income tax and a nine percent sales tax.

“It will replace five other taxes and save us $430 billion a year in filing and filling out forms,” he said.

Cain said he also has a strategy for making the U.S. energy independent but did not elaborate on the details of that strategy.

“Being energy independent is not only an economic imperative, it is a national security imperative because we do not need to depend upon foreign oil when the world is not safe,” he said.

Before arriving in Tuscaloosa, Cain made stops in Anniston, Talladega, Birmingham and Montgomery on Friday. After his speech in Tuscaloosa, he traveled back to Birmingham and then moved on to his final stop in the state in Huntsville on Saturday evening.

Prior to Cain’s speech, local politicians and political activists spoke on the need for a conservative president to return the nation to its core values.

Dale Peterson walked on stage in the cowboy boots and hat reminiscent of his advertisement in 2010 when campaigning for the GOP nomination for Commissioner of Agriculture. He believes the 2012 presidential race opens an opportunity for Republicans to reclaim the direction of the country.

“Once we get the nomination for our local and state candidates, if we’re going to save this country and help this state, we’re all going to have to get behind them,” he said.

Don Wallace, County Commissioner and honorary host of the straw poll, said conservatives should use their right to vote as a tool to hold accountable the politicians they elect.

“We’re not a democracy,” he said. “We elect people to represent values we hold dear and if they don’t do it, then let’s get rid of them.”