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AMANPOUR (voice-over): This week, he's surging in the polls, and now he's challenging the front-runners.
CAIN: Send Washington a message: They're ready for a problem-solver, not another politician.
AMANPOUR: Our headliner, Herman Cain.
And will he or won't he?
(UNKNOWN): We can't wait another four years.
AMANPOUR: He's listening, but will Governor Chris Christie take the plunge?
Plus, American CEOs...
(UNKNOWN): This is no longer a crisis. It's an emergency.
AMANPOUR: Fed up with political paralysis, they're lashing out at Congress and the president.
OBAMA: Let's make things happen.
AMANPOUR: George Will, Jake Tapper, Republican strategist Nicolle Wallace, and Democratic strategist Mark Penn debate that, plus all the week's politics, on our roundtable.
Then, "This Week" marks 10 years since the start of the Afghan war, America's longest. Martha Raddatz reports from Afghanistan on what's been achieved and at what cost.
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ANNOUNCER: Live from the Newseum in Washington, "This Week" with Christiane Amanpour starts right now.
AMANPOUR: Good morning, and welcome to the program. And we have lots to get to today. But first, some news since your morning papers.
More than 700 demonstrators protesting corporate greed, among other issues, were arrested last night on the Brooklyn bridge in New York City. The grassroots movement has swamped Wall Street for more than two weeks now.
President Obama last night blasted the Republican candidates who didn't react as members of a debate audience booed a gay soldier serving in Iraq. The president spoke at the annual gala of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights organization.
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OBAMA: We don't believe in the kind of smallness that says it's OK for a stage full of political leaders, one of whom could end up being the president of the United States, being silent when an America soldier is booed.
We don't believe in that. We don't believe in standing silent when that happens. You want to be commander-in-chief? You can start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States, even when it's not politically convenient.
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AMANPOUR: The president's comments capped a frenetic few days on the campaign trail, which saw the actual candidates largely overshadowed by the man on the fence. Here's ABC's senior political correspondent Jon Karl with "This Week in Politics."
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(UNKNOWN) (voice-over): My Italian mother, she told me to tell you that you've got to run for president.
KARL (voice-over): It was the most electrifying event of the campaign so far, and it involved a guy who isn't even running, at least not yet.
(UNKNOWN): We need you. Your country needs you to run for president.
KARL: It wasn't just that people were begging Chris Christie to run. It was where they were begging, on hallowed ground for Republicans, the Reagan Library.
CHRISTIE: I thank you for what you're saying, and I take it in, and I'm listening to every word of it and feeling it.
KARL: In other words, he may actually do it.
Out on the real campaign trail, it was the potential first ladies who broke through. In Iowa, Anita Perry said, for the next debate, her husband will try harder.
A. PERRY: He's going to be better prepared this time.
KARL: And Ann Romney mused about those who might not support her husband
A. ROMNEY: If they don't pick Mitt, that's their stupid mistake, not mine. So anyway...
KARL: Of course, she was joking. Get it?
And on the flip-flop watch, remember this from last week's debate?
R. PERRY: If you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they've been brought there by no fault of their own, I don't think you have a heart.
KARL: This week, Chris Christie scolded Rick Perry about that.
CHRISTIE: I do not believe that for those people who came here illegally that we should be subsidizing with taxpayer money. That is not a heartless position. That is a commonsense position.
KARL: The next day, Perry uncharacteristically took it back.
R. PERRY: I was probably a bit over-passionate by using that word, and it was inappropriate.
M. ROMNEY: Good to see you today.
KARL: As for Mitt Romney, he invoked none other than Winston Churchill to defend his occasional flip-flop.
M. ROMNEY: In the private sector, if you don't change your view when the facts change, well, you're get fired for being stubborn and stupid. It was Winston Churchill who said, when the facts change, I change, too, madam.
KARL: Finally, Sarah Palin suggested the title "president" might simply be too limiting for her.
PALIN: Is a title and is a campaign too shackling? Does that prohibit me from being out there, out of a box, not allowing handlers to shape me?
KARL: Shackling. In other words, not maverick-y.
And trending this week, Florida, up. It's primary now January 31st. South Carolina, down, still first in the South, but now sure to be overshadowed by Florida. Rick Perry, down, looking kind of like the Red Sox -- well, not that bad. Chris Christie, up. We're not sure where, but definitely up. Ron Paul, down. The most wanted terrorist in the world is killed, and he says it's quote, "sad." Really? And Herman Cain, up, way up. A Fox News poll putting him in third place, statistically tied with Rick Perry.
With "This Week in Politics," I'm Jonathan Karl.
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AMANPOUR: So a big week for businessman Herman Cain, and he joins me right now.
Thank you for being here.
CAIN: Good morning. It's my pleasure.
AMANPOUR: So you've had a pretty big high, the straw poll, all sorts of other polls. How are you going to capitalize on this? How are you going to keep this momentum up?
CAIN: First, we're going to stick with our strategy, by going to the people. As an example, the straw poll in Florida last week, which really got the attention of a lot of people -- because it differed from a lot of the other straw polls in that actual delegates were casting the straw poll. And because my win was so convincing, it caused people to take note that there's something going on out here other than how the media is portraying this being one-, two-person race. It's not just a one-, two-person race.
AMANPOUR: Let me -- let me start by asking you some of these questions.
AMANPOUR: You've just seen what President Obama said last night about that incident at the Florida debate, where there was booing in the audience when a gay soldier started to speak. Nobody said anything. You didn't, Rick Santorum, none of the others did. Do you wish you had said something, intervened at that moment?
CAIN: Well, the thing that's being overlooked is that, in the heat of a debate, when you have exactly 60 seconds to answer any question, you know, taking that time to try and figure out why they were booing -- I happen to think that maybe they were booing the whole "don't ask/don't tell" repeal more so than booing that soldier. But we didn't know that. So that was not the time to try and decipher, why was it they -- why were they reacting that way?
AMANPOUR: But you don't think that you probably should have said something, like, audience, you know, please, a little bit of respect?
CAIN: I did not have that luxury, because I was not in control. I was not the moderator.
AMANPOUR: In retrospect, would you have done something, given the controversy it's...
CAIN: In -- in retrospect, because of the controversy it has created and because of the different interpretations that it could have had, yes, that probably -- that would have been appropriate. But at the moment, it was not the focus of the people up there on that stage, I can assure you.
AMANPOUR: And what do you think when President Obama says this is not the people we are, we're not so small as to boo anybody, much less a soldier serving and defending this country?
CAIN: I would agree with that statement. But I would also challenge the president and his administration for the way they're going about trying to cut costs. And -- and they basically have a formula that's going to cut costs in the Defense Department. I would describe what he's doing, in terms of all of the costs in defense, as putting a bull's-eye on the back on our men and women in uniform.
AMANPOUR: Let me...
CAIN: So I could make that case.
AMANPOUR: Let me get to another question.
AMANPOUR: On the front page of the Washington Post today, there's a story about Rick Perry...
AMANPOUR: ... and a hunting lodge that belonged to his family, bought in the 1980s. And on a rock apparently near the entrance there, there is a word that is a very ugly racial word, a slur.
AMANPOUR: And it's been -- it's been painted over. But the report raises questions about whether this rock, this stone, with that word on it, was still on display even quite recently in the last several years. What is your reaction to that?
CAIN: My reaction is that is very insensitive. There are some words that do not basically inspire the kind of negativity like that particular word. And I know that you're refraining from saying that word, so I'm going to say what the word was on the rock. The name of the place was called "Niggerhead." That is very insensitive.
And since Governor Perry has been going there for years to hunt, I think that it shows a lack of sensitivity for a long time of not taking that word off of that rock and renaming the place. It's just basically a case of insensitivity.
AMANPOUR: It was painted over.
CAIN: Yes. It was painted over. But how long ago was it painted over? So I'm still saying that it is a sign of insensitivity.
AMANPOUR: Let me move on to some things that you've said. Right after the debate in Florida, you told Wolf Blitzer of CNN that, basically, African-Americans, blacks in this country had been brainwashed over the years into supporting Democrats.
AMANPOUR: I mean, isn't that really an inflammatory thing to say? I mean, do you really believe that African-Americans, blacks, are so easily manipulated?
CAIN: I also said in that same interview...
AMANPOUR: No, but let me you ask about that. That word is very inflammatory.
CAIN: It is. I'm going to answer your question. I also said the good news is a large percentage of black people are thinking for themselves. Now, I think that -- if the word is inflammatory, that's too bad. It is true. And here's why: because some black people won't even listen to someone who appears to be a conservative or a Republican. I call that brainwashing.
AMANPOUR: Some would say that -- some would say that actually it's because those policies and what you're proposing, for instance, don't meet their demands or what they're looking for.
CAIN: And I say that the reason they don't see them as meeting their demands of what they're looking for is because they have not looked at them. My economic growth and jobs plan, as an example, is not partisan. It is a solution that benefits everybody, especially the African-American community.
AMANPOUR: Well, let me as you about that, because 999...
CAIN: Yes. Yes.
AMANPOUR: ... you talk about 9 percent corporate, 9 percent income tax, and a 9 percent national sales tax.
AMANPOUR: And economists are saying that that could actually disproportionately affect poorer people, African-Americans, and all sorts of poorer people.
CAIN: Ask them to do the math.
AMANPOUR: Apparently they have done the math.
CAIN: No, they have not, because I have done the math. Let me give you an actual example. If you take the median income of $50,000 a year...
AMANPOUR: But what about $20,000 a year, people who are paying less?
CAIN: If it's $20,000 or $25,000, just divide by two, OK? It started with the median income, OK? If you start with $50,000 a year, the same numbers work. You get the same conclusion if they make $25,000 a year.
Here are the actual numbers, $55,000 a year under the current system, they're going to pay approximately $10,000 in taxes. It includes the payroll tax. Now, on the 999, they're going to pay $4,500, 9 percent of $50,000. Now, if they -- that means that they an excess of about $5,500 because they're now paying $10,000.
If they paid a 9 percent sales tax on everything that they buy, which means they bought all news goods and services, they would still come out $2,000 ahead. So what I'm saying is, those economists need to do the math. They're making that assertion based upon wanting to attack it and turning it into a class warfare argument.
AMANPOUR: I want to ask you about something else that you've said. You've said -- and we're going to show a graphic -- that there's been a creeping attempt to gradually ease Sharia law and the Muslim faith into our government. And now listen to what Governor Chris Christie has said about the fear of Sharia law here in the United States.
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CHRISTIE: This Sharia law business is crap. It's just crazy. And I'm tired of dealing with the crazies.
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AMANPOUR: So he's saying that those kinds of fears that you espouse and others are crazy. What do you say to that?
CAIN: Call me crazy, but there are too many examples of where there has been pushback.
AMANPOUR: You don't really mean this, though, do you, Mr. Cain?
CAIN: Oh, yes, I do.
AMANPOUR: Sharia law in the United States?
CAIN: Some people would infuse Sharia law in our court system if we allow it. I honestly believe that. So even if he calls me crazy, I am going to make sure that they don't infuse it little by little by little. It's not going to be some grand scheme, little by little. So I don't mind if he calls me crazy. I'm simply saying...
AMANPOUR: You're sticking to it?
CAIN: I'm sticking to it. American laws in American courts, period.
AMANPOUR: American laws are in American courts...
AMANPOUR: ... so the people of this country should be safe for the moment.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about Chris Christie jumping in. Would you support that?
CAIN: Come on down, as they say, to use Bob Barker's term. And here's why. I respect Governor Christie. He has basically distinguished himself because he's not afraid to tell like it is, like me. But he would be another person in the contest. It would still be up to the people.
It doesn't concern me in terms of what it might do to my momentum, because one thing that we've learned about people who support Herman Cain, they do not defect. They're not waiting for the next flavor of the week, to use someone else's terminology. So it wouldn't bother me a bit.
AMANPOUR: Herman Cain, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.
CAIN: It's been my pleasure.