Herman Cain, mingling with the crowd before the Iowa State Cyclones’ football game in Ames today, dismissed skeptics who say he hasn’t spent enough time campaigning in the state, saying he’s already built support in Iowa , and “when people get on the Cain Train, they don’t get off.”
Supporters rushed to the bus to greet the Republican presidential hopeful with words of encouragement and support. This is Cain’s first trip to the state in more than a month. Some Iowa staffers have left the campaign, fearing that Cain was not giving the state enough attention, instead opting to go on a whirlwind book tour for his newly released autobiography.
“Well, what some people are missing is that I just didn’t start coming to Iowa. I started coming to Iowa last fall and I’ve been here on a regular basis, talking to a lot of groups,” Cain said. “I think that the fact that we are leading in the polls in Iowa shows that when people get on the Cain Train, they don’t get off. They don’t get off because of the flavor of the week. And so that’s what’s so exciting and that’s why I’m happy to be here in Cyclone country.”
Cain, like some of his opponents in the race for the GOP presidential nomination, was critical of President Obama for announcing that U.S. troops would be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of the year.
“I don’t agree with that decision. Because number one I think it’s going to leave a big vacuum in Iraq,” he said. “The question is, what’s next? And unfortunately it’s going to leave a great big vacuum. And I happen to think Iran is just sitting back and waiting for us to leave and then they’re going to go back in and try to take over the country.
“Secondly, I can’t for the life of me understand why you tell the enemy what you’re going to do and when you’re going to do it. That’s just not common sense. I’m sorry,” Cain said.
Though the 2011 troop withdrawal was set in motion by the Bush administration, Cain said Obama has the power to set the timetable.
“The previous administration may have put it in place, probably based upon hitting certain milestones, but the president has the authority to change that if it’s not in the best interests of the mission in Iraq,” he said.
“What I would do differently is I would ask the commanders on the ground. This is what this president is not doing relative to that and that’s why a lot of people are critical of this decision,” Cain said.
Cain is scheduled to appear before the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition tonight, and he will likely be questioned about comments he made on the issue of abortion. Cain, who has voiced strong opposition to abortion in all cases, said Wednesday night in an interview on CNN that “it ultimately gets down to a choice that the family or that mother has to make. Not me as president, not some politician, not a bureaucrat.”
Cain has since reiterated his anti-abortion rights stance.
“I’m 100 percent pro-life,” he said. “End of story.”
But the conservative group will probably demand clarification on the issue.