Cain Strategy: Top Three in Iowa and N.H., Wins in S.C.and Florida


                                                                                                                   Richard Drew/AP Photo


Herman Cain’s hitting New York City, promoting his new book and meeting with Donald Trump and former mayor Ed Koch. But Manhattan is far from any of the early states and although it may help him sell books, it’s the voters of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina that help choose the president.

The pizza magnate and businessman told ABC News he’s not “ignoring” the early states and he’s not afraid the momentum he’s riding from his Florida straw poll win and surging poll numbers—he came in second, tied with Texas governor Rick Perry at 16 percent in the  ABC News Washington Post poll released Tuesday, behind Mitt Romney with 25 percent—will slip if he doesn’t get back to the Hawkeye state.

“If we finish in the top three in Iowa, in the top three in New Hampshire, we will have achieved our expectations. If we finish higher than that, we will have exceeded our expectations because we are fully confident that we can win South Carolina, Florida and some of these other states,” Cain said told ABC News in an interview after his appearance on ABC’s “The View.”

“We are not going to win every state but we are going to win enough of the critical ones in order to be able to get the delegates we need,” he continued.

Cain said he’s been to the first caucus state, Iowa, 18 times and has a “good solid base” in the state, adding he plans to return in the “next several weeks.”

He’s not afraid of one big early win and running out of money, which is what happened to Mike Huckabee in the last cycle, because his supporters “don’t defect.”

“Our strategy involved hitting South Carolina and Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama, and some of these other Southern states. We didn’t want to wait too long to create a presence there. We have succeeded at that so now we are going to re-focus on Iowa and New Hampshire as part of our overall strategy,” Cain said.

Cain often touts his “999? plan on the campaign trail and he did again Tuesday on “The View.” It would change the tax code to have a nine percent business flat tax, a nine percent personal income flat tax, and a nine percent national sales tax. He guaranteed the plan won’t “touch Social Security”  and seniors should not worry because it “only expands the tax base.”

“If you do the calculations and compare that to the fact that it will replace the corporate income tax, the personal income tax, the capital gains taxes, the estate taxes and the payroll tax, it’s going to replace all five of those, so if people go through and look at what they are paying now and compare that to what they would pay under the 999 plan they would come up ahead,” Cain said.

Cain said he’s so “confident” in the plan that no matter what state the economy is in when he’s in the White House those 999 numbers won’t budge.  He added that low-income Americans shouldn’t be concerned because if someone buys a used item such as a used car there is no sales tax on it. That’s one way to “stretch their dollars,” according to Cain, adding the plan is “not punitive” and “not regressive on the poor.”

“We are going to have the economy growing, and I’m going to get very, very bullish on cutting the spending. So if I’ve got revenues going up and spending going down, we are not going to have to deal with what do we cut next if that’s the only tactic that we have,” Cain said.

Cain also wasn’t shy taking on his opponents, although he was careful to be quite polite while doing it. He said he has “a lot of respect” for Romney’s “business record,” but because the former Massachusetts governor was a “Wall Street executive” while he, Cain, was a “Main Street business executive” means he is the better man for the job.

While Romney’s numbers stay stagnant—he received 25 percent of support from people who lean Republican in both this month’s and last month’s ABC News/Washington Post poll—Cain says he thinks his numbers will continue to grow. He surged from four percent to sixteen percent from last month to Tuesday’s poll.

“My name ID based on the latest Gallup poll is still at about 51%. Romney has a name ID somewhere up around the high 80s, so as my name ID goes up we believe that we’ll continue to pick up more numbers,” Cain said.

The news of New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s decision not to get into the race had just broke and Cain said after his appearance that the decision was “sound” because he “didn’t allow himself to be swayed by the media hype.”

On This Week on Sunday, Cain told Christiane Amanpour it was “insensitive” that Perry did not act sooner to remove a rock with a racial slur written on it from the Perry family hunting grounds. While leaving his meeting with Donald Trump on Monday, he seemed to back away from that stance, saying “I really don’t care about that word. They painted over it” and the controversy “doesn’t bother me at all.” However, on “The View” he returned to what he told Amanpour.

“I still stand by my statement that it was insensitive for it to be up there until 1983 and the statement that’s been issued by Gov. Perry and his campaign—I accept that. I do not believe that that represents how Gov. Rick Perry feels about black people in America. It was insensitive to leave it there as long as they left it,” Cain said on the show.

And despite what Sarah Palin said on Fox News last week, in a lighter moment Cain says he’s not the “flavor of the month” and while he’s “Haagen-Dazs Black Walnut ice cream,” his opponents Romney and Perry are “plain vanilla.”

ABC News’ Candace Smith and Susan Archer contributed to this report.