Tonight at 7pm in the rotunda of Low Library, former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain was scheduled to speak to an audience about taxes, youth, and pizza. After some waiting, CUCR President Tyler Trumbach introduced Cain, emphasizing that the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO’s experience in the business world (coupled with his campaign experience), gave him a unique voice and message.
After the introduction and a short advertisement for Cain Solutions Revolution, (Rock-Me-Like-A-Herman)Cain began his speech with the assertion that the United States has become a nation of crises, but ultimately chose to focus on the issue of tax reform. He outlined the highlights of his experience in the business world, working his way up the corporate ladder at Pillsbury, first at then-subsidiary Burger King and later at Godfather’s. In the corporate world, Cain argued, the success of his plans to move business forward was often foiled by “too much government,” noting that the Founding Fathers “believed in limited government, not runaway government.”
Cain then turned to the economic problems that the United States currently faces, the existence of which he largely blames on the current tax code. As he did throughout his campaign, he outlined the now-infamous “9–9–9” plan for the one member of the audience who raised her hand when a asked if anyone was unsure what the plan was. Cain’s plan would theoretically replace the “70,000 page” tax code, which, he claimed, would allow businesses to both plan better and bring “two to three trillion dollars” of offshore money back to the States without being double-taxed, allowing the economy to grow at a less anemic rate. According to Cain, the nation needs to fix itself from the inside. In his words, “We don’t have a sugar daddy to bail us out!”
The focus of the speech then shifted to the role of young people in saving the country from further crises. Cain noted that the nation isn’t going to fix itself and that young people are instrumental in digging the nation out of its economic rut. The audience was then challenged to do three things to “become a part of the solution and not part of the problem”: stay informed, stay involved, and stay inspired; knowing what’s going on, actively trying to fix problems, and believing that most problems have a solution are key to solving many of the country’s ills. Young people are often in position to do all three.
To the audience’s delight, Cain closed his speech with a quote from Pokémon: The Movie 2000. “I didn’t know what movie it came from!” Cain said, poking fun at himself before citing the words themselves. “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.”
Tom Callander, Director of Finance for CUCR, then approached the microphone and started asking questions that had been posed on Twitter and on note cards from audience members. The questions ranged from energy independence to Trayvon Martin to Iran, all of which Cain generally answered in a style consistent with his platform as a candidate.
Callander did note, however, that the last question was also one of the most frequently asked: What is your favorite pizza topping? Cain, who added an “s” to the end of the question, exclaimed that he prefers, “The all-meat combo!” Much to this author’s chagrin, however, he noted that there are no anchovies on his dream pizza.
After answering this final question, Cain ended with a reiteration that young people need to get involved, closing with an oft-cited quote from father of modern conservatism Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing.”