MIAMI (CBS4) – Hoping to drum up support in South Florida, Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain is making speeches and shaking hands at four different events in our area on Wednesday.
He started his day at 11 a.m. at the Claude and Mildred Pepper Senior Center on SW 4th Street in Sweetwater. From there he courted the Hispanic vote with a stop at the Versailles Restaurant on SW 8th Street in Little Havana at 11:45 a.m. About two hundred supporters gave Cain a rousing reception on Calle Ocho as he made the obligatory pilgrimmage to the popular restaurant. Cain had some Cuban coffee and a croqueta. He told the crowd how his life experience resembled their immigrant experience: “My mother was a domestic worker, my father was a chauffeur. When they started their American Dream, all they had was sweat equity. You know all about sweat equity.”
He also said creating jobs and fixing the economy was job one. To do that Cain said we needed to throw out the current tax code and then “pass a new structure called nueve nueve nueve; nine nine nine.”
He pleased most of those assembled by calling for a tough Cuban policy: “Freedom for Cuba now! I believe we should not only to continue to pressure Castro but to put more pressure on Castro.”
He also had harsh words for President Obama.
Under this administration, we have become weaker economically, we have become weaker militarily and we’ve become weaker in our respect in the world.
In the aftermath of a major misstep when he froze when asked about Libya, he addressed criticism that he’s unprepared on foreign policy matters, saying “a leader doesn’t have to know everything, but a leader needs to know something and I can tell you what I do know: I know how to surround myself with good people and I know the questions to ask to solve the problem.”
He talked about how Florida was a big state for him and that may be an understatement. His win two months ago in a Florida straw poll shot him to the top of the G-O-P field. But, with declining poll numbers elsewhere, a recent poll still has him ahead here, so winning the Florida primary may be crucial for him.
South Floridians who came out to see him liked what they saw.
“We’ve had professional politicians forever and look at the results,” said Emilio Vazquez. “I’m willing to give somebody else a shot.”
“Out of all of the candidates he’s had the most substance,” said Matt Trayler. “Now I know that can change, I realize that, but I want to hear him live to hear what he has to say today.”
He later visited the Wings Plus On West Sample Road in Coral Springs and wrapped up his South Florida visit with a rally at the Palm Beach County Convention Center at 5 p.m.
In recent weeks, Cain’s campaign has been plagued by allegations that he sexually harassed several women more than a decade ago. He did not address the allegations, staying away from reporters’ questions.
On Tuesday, he back pedaled after his most recent foreign policy gaffe.
In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel editorial board Monday, Cain seemed to be at a loss for words when he was asked about Libya.
Cain stumbled at first and then said he would have assessed the situation differently while stumbling trying to determine which foreign policy element he was discussing.
Cain’s stumbling follows close on the heels of fellow GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry’s infamous nearly minute long stumble of trying to recount the third government agency he would seek to close if he was elected president.
Cain has struggled as well in other foreign policy questions. The former Godfather’s Pizza CEO said earlier this month that China was “trying to develop a nuclear capability.”
However, China has had nuclear weapons since October 1964.
“He’s been able to prance and tip toe around the slip ups,” said Francisco Cantero who went to the Versailles event. “It will be interesting to see what he can do to salvage what looks like a slipping campaign.”