Herman Cain Speaks at Restoration Weekend

The surprise presidential front-runner issues a challenge to America.

Editor's note: Below is Herman Cain's speech on November 18, 2011 at David Horowitz's Restoration Weekend in West Palm Beach, Florida (Nov. 17-20, 2011). It is preceded by an introduction by David Horowitz. To watch the video of the speech, click here.

David Horowitz: Good morning.  Did you all get your bobble heads?  All right.

Welcome to the 16th Annual Restoration Weekend.  This is an event that began in 1994 as the Dark Ages Weekend, which is a fitting name to describe the years of Obama rule.  And we're here to say no to these circumstances, and also to have fun over the next three days, and enjoy the blessings of living in this great country, and to think about how we can defend it.

It is my great privilege this morning to introduce an extraordinary individual who's also the most unusual Presidential front-runner ever.


Herman Cain is what the mathematician Nassim Taleb would call a black swan, and not because of his color or floatability.


A black swan in Taleb's famous theory is an event that nobody would've predicted, and yet one that has a system-wide impact, like 9/11 and Barack Obama.  A black swan is an outlier whom nobody thought was a possibility but whose influence, when it arrives, is momentous.  Herman Cain is a black swan.

Herman Cain was born to poor parents in the segregated Deep South.  When his father walked off the farm, all he owned was the shirt on his back.  He worked three jobs to support his family until he could support it with two, and two until he was able to support it with one.  And what he told his son was this -- believe in God, believe in yourself, and believe in this great country.  Herman Cain did just that.

Good advice.  Herman Cain did just that.  He majored in mathematics in college and computer science in graduate school.  He went to work as a computer systems analyst at Coca-Cola, and director of business systems analysis at Pillsbury -- his success there led to his appointment as president and CEO of Godfather's Pizza Division.  Eventually, he and a group of investors bought Godfather's Pizza.

He went on to other roles and achievements in the business world, including chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and a five-year stint as a radio talk show host in Atlanta.  He was headed for retirement and what he calls cruise control, when the concerns he heard from his talk show callers suddenly turned into fears, as the Obama juggernaut got into high gear and began trampling over the American people and the values that Herman Cain held dear.

And so began his black swan adventure.  On may 12th this year, he announced he was running for President, even though he had never held a political office.  Because he was an unknown with no party organization behind him, no big donor class supporting him, the experts wrote him off.  The media and the Democrats ignored him.  He didn't have a chance.  Everyone was sure of that.

But then, Herman Cain spoke.  And the people began to listen.

As they listened, he began to climb in the polls, and climb and climb, until he was at the top.  And then they no longer dismissed him.  They set out to destroy him.

Have you noticed how Democrats and the leftwing media attack conservatives with the intention not only of disputing their ideas but destroying them as human beings, and how they direct their most vicious and most personal attacks at conservative women and blacks?  Here is a man who is an amazing American success story, a man marked for the bottom rungs of the social ladder, who rose on his merits -- his character, his brains and his determination -- until he reached the top.  Progressives are supposed to want a better future, especially for black Americans.  But when it comes to a real flesh-and-blood person, they obviously don't.

The attack they have launched is classic racism.  They have called this man a stupid, oversexed house negro and suggested in so many words that he is bought and paid for by his white masters.  I apologize for calling attention to this sordid behavior, but it is exactly what they have said of him.  As one leftwing anchor put it, Republicans love Herman Cain because he knows his place.

Herman Cain knows his place.  Oh no, he doesn't.  If Herman Cain knew his place, he would still be poor.  He would never have become a computer scientist or risen to the top of a major company.  If Herman Cain knew his place, he would never have run for President.  He would not be up there with the front of the Republican pack.  In fact, he would still be a Democrat.

He would be part of the Democratic plantation that controls America's inner cities, runs their failing schools, and keeps their inhabitants -- who are mainly black and Hispanic -- poor.  Every step of the way that Herman Cain has taken in life shows that Herman Cain doesn't know his place.  Not one bit.

What he does know is his dream.  And it is the American dream, the dream that says regardless of race, religion or creed you have a place in the American sun.  But you've got to earn it.

That's why conservatives have come to love Herman Cain.  Not because he knows his place, but because he knows his country, because he believes in his country, and because he is willing to fight for it.

Herman Cain: Thank you.  Good job, David.  Thank you.  Thank you very much.

I have often been cited as someone who tells it like it is.  I believe that description fits also to David.  He tells it like it is.  And I believe that we need more people to just tell it like it is, instead of trying to put it in political speak.

When I was a student at Morehouse College, Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, the president, used to challenge the young men of Morehouse, when he would say, "Life is just a minute -- only sixty seconds in it.  Forced upon you -- can't refuse it.  Didn't seek it -- didn't choose it.  But it's up to you to use it.  You must suffer if you lose it.  Give an account if you abuse it.  Just a tiny, little minute, but eternity is in it!"

There is a war going on in America.  And we have but a minute to fix it.  This war is a fight for freedom itself.  It is a war that has essentially two sides.  One side wants to maintain the status quo, which is destroying this nation.  The other side is trying to change the status quo, so America can be the America that our Founding Fathers intended.

What is indicative of these two sides that's dividing America, rather than bringing America together?  On the one side, you have something that I describe as the citizens' movement.  Some people call it the Tea Party movement.  But it's not just the Tea Party.  I've been a part of the Tea Party before it was cool.

Gave my first speech at a Tea Party event in Las Vegas, Nevada on April 15th, 2009.

And so the whole Tea Party movement has now, according to the media, been labeled as a racist organization, in order to try and stop this citizens' movement.  Because the citizens, the people, the real folk are saying -- we want our nation back.

And I pointed out at a national press club speech recently, when they asked me about what did I think about the racist label that the media was trying to put on the Tea Party event -- I said -- well, if you have noticed, I continue to win a lot of Tea Party straw polls.  And I'm moving up in the national polls.  If the Tea Party were racist, then how could so many white people pretend to like me?

I don't think that much pretending is in the world.

So you have that element that's saying enough is enough, let's get this nation back on the right track.  Then you have that other element that's trying to maintain the status quo, basically, as indicated with this Occupy Wall Street protest.  It's not a movement.

The citizens' movement, the Tea Party movement -- they had, and have, three simple priorities.  Number one -- they want to recognize candidates that represent fiscal responsibility, candidates that believe in the free market system, and candidates that promote enforcement of the Constitution, not rewriting it, and not ignoring it.  That's what the citizens' movement, the Tea Party movement, is all about.

Then, on the other hand, on the other side, no one knows what their priorities are.  No one knows what their objectives are.  When it first started, I was wondering -- what was the end game?  What were they expecting, protesting on Wall Street, protesting bankers, protesting people who worked hard in America, that helped make America what it is; who worked in order to be able to do the same thing that I and many of you have done -- to achieve your American dreams?  What did they want those bankers to do -- come downstairs and write them a check?

Then what?  Write them another check.

So that wasn't, and isn't, a movement.  Because the citizens' movement is trying to move America back to its roots.  This other side is attempting to keep America stuck on stalled.  The economy is stalled.  Our military is being weakened.  And our respect in the world is going down.

So we have a tug-of-war going on.  A tug-of-war.  And it is a fight for freedom.

You see, the Founding Fathers, they got it right.  They got it right.  We have to be the defending fathers.  We must be the ones to defend freedom.  To defend life.  To defend liberty, and to defend the pursuit of happiness.  And in the Declaration of Independence, it didn't say anything about a guarantee.  It said the pursuit of happiness, like my parents did, like you did, like your parents did.  The pursuit of happiness.  Maybe the Occupy Wall Street people need to read that line.

So that's what this battle is about.  How do we win?  The answer is quite simple; the process to achieve it is not so simple.  First, we must change Washington, DC.

It has become the political class versus the people.  And unfortunately, the political class view us as serfs.  When I talk about my energy-independence strategy -- that we can become an energy-independent nation, because it's been well-documented we've got the resources --

We've got lots of oil, coal, natural gas, shale oil.  We've got plenty of resources to become energy-independent.  And when I make that statement inside the beltway, and I say that we're working on an energy-independence plan -- in fact, it’s going to be rolling it out to the nation in a few weeks, because it is doable -- I will often get the comment -- well, that sounds good, but you can't do that.  What do you mean, I can't do that?  Well, you can't do that.  I said -- I'm going to be President.  What do you mean, I can't do that?

Maybe I’m missing something.  Well, you see, the EPA won't let you.  They won't let me?  Therein lies the problem.

And so, we the people are going to have to bring about an attitude adjustment at the EPA.  They work for us!  We don't work for them!

Attitude adjustment.  In fact, we've got to do some attitude adjustment in a lot of agencies in Washington, DC.  A lot of agencies we've got to do an attitude adjustment.

So that's one of the biggest changes that we need to make.  Because energy is not only an economic imperative; it's also a national security imperative.  The world is not safer.  We don't know what 12 or 15 months is going to look like in terms of conflicts going on around the world.  And in a heartbeat, one of the nations that we are buying oil from could decide they don't want to sell us any more oil.  And this nation would be crippled.

We spend over $600 billion a year buying oil from foreign countries.  Let's keep that money here at home and become energy-independent.

So that's one of the first things we need to do toward changing Washington, DC.  The second-biggest thing we need to do to change the political class is to change our tax code.  This economy's on life support.

And one of the reasons that this economy is on life support is because the current tax code of 82,000 pages is strangling this economy, strangling businesses and strangling families.  The code is the enemy in terms of preventing economic growth.  The tax code.  It's been around since 1913.  It started out as a few simple pages.  Now we've got 82,000 pages.  Fifty percent of all of the people that work inside of Washington, DC that do not hold elective office are lobbyists.  What are they lobbying for?  A favor in the tax code.

And so that's why the black swan -- proposes a bold solution.

I like that, David.  And that's why the black swan has proposed a bold solution.  Because you see, the difference between a businessman and a politician -- a politician will propose what they can get passed.  A businessman proposes something to fix the problem.  We got problems to fix.  Not keep tinkering around the edges.

We cannot tickle this economy to prosperity.  And so this is why the proposal that we plan to pass is -- first, throw out the tax code.  Throw it out.  And then implement this 9-9-9 plan.  9-9-9.

And one of the reasons that the liberals hate it, and my opponents hate it, is because the people understand it.  The people like it.  They want to do it.  But you see, it would change Washington, DC.  What are all those lobbyists going to do when we pass 9-9-9?  They're going to get one of those shovel-ready jobs that Obama promised them.

Maybe by then, they will have found them.

Because it is the tax code that ties Washington, DC up in knots, which is holding this nation back.  Now, there are some additional benefits to 9-9-9 that you don't hear the mainstream media talking about.  It's going to help level the playing field between products and goods produced here in the United States to better compete with goods around the world.

Why?  In the first 9, you take your sales as a business person and you subtract your purchases that help you to produce the product.  You subtract capital expenditures.  No depreciation in the year that you spend it.  What a novel idea.  And you subtract net exports.  In other words, you do not put a tax in the product before you send it overseas to sell it.  You don't put embedded taxes in it.  And therefore, our products, goods and services will compete better with the rest of the world.

And then, when people criticize it because of the sales tax component, what many have not understood yet is that the embedded taxes aren't in that loaf of bread anymore.  Economists have estimated that everything we buy, everything we buy, has at least 30 percent embedded taxes.  At least 30 to 50 percent embedded taxes.  And so we take out the embedded taxes that are invisible, and we put in a visible 9 percent.

One of the other criticisms about 9-9-9 is -- well, what's to prevent 9-9-9 from becoming 18-18-18?  Well, tax structures don't raise taxes.  Politicians do.  And if the people can see it, they're going to hold the politicians' feet to the ground.  Today, with the current tax code of 82,000 pages, it is filled with opportunities for sneak attaxes.  One you never see.

And you don't know you've been bitten until after you've been bitten.  Filled with sneak attaxes.

And so the tax code is at the heart of preventing our economic growth, which is adding to the uncertainty hanging over this economy.  Businesspeople would normally be having meetings, talking about how they're going to grow the business.  For the last three years, the boardroom chatter turned into how do we survive, because of all of the uncertainty.

So I'm optimistic that we can win this war for freedom and liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Because if I were not confident that we can win this war, I would not be running for President of the United States of America.  This is why I am doing this, because of the grandchildren, not because of cruise control.  It's for the grandkids.

And here's why I believe we're going to win this war.  It's that same spirit of America that the Founding Fathers had when they started this great nation.  Because that spirit of America has come alive.  It's called we the people are still in charge of this country.  Every organization, citizens all over this country -- that spirit of America has come alive.  It's that spirit of America that has moved my candidacy up in the polls.

And yes, they are trying to destroy me.  It was Brent Bozell -- who I know you know -- and Newt Gingrich, who told me that my candidacy is going to go through five phases.  And they're right.  Phase one -- they ignore you.  They did.  Phase two -- they ridicule you.  They did.  Charles Krauthammer, who I have the greatest amount of respect for -- he's one of the best thinkers on TV -- said that my campaign was entertainment, as one example.  Third phase -- then they try to destroy you.  They are in the process of trying to do that right now.  And in the fourth phase, they accept you, if you survive not getting destroyed.  They will accept you.

And then Newt said -- well, Herman, there's this fifth phase.  I said -- what is it?  He said -- then everybody is your friend because they thought you were going to get there anyway.

That's the fifth phase --  I knew he could do it all along.

And so that's where we are.

But I'm optimistic because of the spirit of America.  As I travel around the country and listen to people, and talk to people, and give speeches -- I don't just give speeches and not listen -- the message is consistent.  There is a disconnect between what's happening in Washington, DC with the political class and the real people out there.  And what the real people are saying is that we want our country back.  In Washington, DC I'm reminded that I have never held high public office before.  When I talk to the folk, they love the fact that I have never held high public office.

They love it.

And so, my message to you is very simple.  I challenge you to do what you can do, in this very brief minute we have, to take this country back.  My father lived to be 56 years of age.  My maternal grandfather lived to be 94.  My maternal grandmother lived to be 104 years old.  But no matter how long you have on this planet, it's just a minute.  A speck.  And we have the responsibility to use our time, our talents, and our treasures to make a difference in our minute, while we're here.  Because we're all put here to make a difference.

Making the decision to run for President was not an easy decision, as you would imagine.  Took a lot of prayer, a lot of praying, a lot of prayer and a lot of praying.  And this journey for me started 12 years ago, when my first grandchild was born.  And I looked in her face.  And the first thought that went through my mind was -- what do I do to help make this a better world?

I didn't know the answer then.  What do I do to make this a better world and a better nation?  Didn't know the answer.  But as my minute continued to unfold, it became clearer as to what I needed to do, and thus made this decision.

And so my challenge to you is for you to do what you can do.  As the words to one of my favorite songs say -- life can be a challenge.  Life can seem impossible.  It's never easy when there's so much on the line.  But you can make a difference.  There's a mission just for you.  Just look inside, and you will find just what you can do.  Just look inside, and you will find just what you can do.

Ronald Reagan used to describe this nation as a shining city on a hill.  But in the last few years, the shining city on a hill has slid down to the side of the hilltop.  But here's what we can do, together.  We can move that shining city on a hill back to the top of the hill, where it belongs.

And if you give me the pleasure of being your President, we will move that shining city on a hill back to the top of the hill, where it belongs.  We will put "united" back into United States of America.  And I will never, ever apologize for the greatness of the United States of America!

God bless you.

Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.