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Herman Cain: ‘Race is not an issue, leadership is’

DES MOINES — Race and ethnicity aren’t factors in the 2012 presidential race — rather, it boils down to leadership, GOP candidate Herman Cain said while visiting Iowa Thursday.

Image has not been found. URL: http://media.iowaindependent.com/cain_125.jpgCain, a prominent black businessman from Atlanta, said while he was “proud of America” for electing a black man to the presidency in 2008, “the problem is that people did not look below the surface” from President Barack Obama‘s ethnicity to his leadership skills, which is what voters truly care about in 2012.

“Race is not an issue, leadership is,” Cain stressed, adding while he lacks political experience, his tenure in business — he was the former chair of the board for Godfather’s Pizza — gives him an edge that career politicians lack.

“I am a career problem solver, not a career politician,” he said. “What distinguishes me is that I’m a business problem solver. Those experiences have allowed me to sharpen my problem-solving capabilities; that’s what successful business people do and those are the skills I’ll take to Washington D.C.”

Cain was the second participating in the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s presidential forum series; fellow GOP candidate U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich) was scheduled to appear at the same forum last Thursday, but had to cancel due to the debt ceiling talks in Washington D.C.

The forums are comprised of candidate opening remarks, and then a question and answer portion, which in Cain’s case, ranged from national security, to his stance in the eyes of the Muslim community, to the debt ceiling agreement.

“I know how Washington (D.C.) works — it doesn’t,” Cain said, adding federal lawmakers, the U.S. Treasury and Obama knew the debt ceiling crisis was approaching. “If this had been done a year ago, then maybe they’d cut only six percent, but they would haven’t had to raise debt ceiling. That agreement doesn’t work.”

After coming under fire for remarking he would not appoint a Muslim individual to his cabinet if elected to the White House, Cain, a Baptist minister, said his stance remains unchanged on Sharia Law, even after a meeting last week Imam Mohamad Magid in New York City.

“It’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t,” he said of an apology he made following the cabinet remarks. And while “I have nothing against peaceful Muslims who practice their religion peacefully,” Cain maintains his beliefs in the separation of church and state, which is not a tenet of Islam.

However, Cain is encouraging the religious community — presumably Christian — to become more involved with the political process to eradicate a “moral crisis” in America, and “the religious community has to speak up and has to stand up.”

Thursday was Cain’s 25th visit to Iowa this year; he will launch a bus tour through Iowa leading up the Ames Straw Poll. Cain intends to finish in the top three next Saturday.

“We’re not going to stop,” he said of his campaign if he does not place in the top three, but qualified that statement with, “if we finish fourth or fifth, then we’ll evaluate that to determine what implications are… I am in it to win it. I’m not in it to come in second.”

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