ALBIA, IA – Herman Cain’s first audience yesterday after the GOP presidential debate in Ames the night before featured several other speakers -- at least one of whom the other Republican presidential candidates would likely be loathe to appear on the same stage.
Cain spoke at a breakfast meeting for the National Foundation for Women Legislators, a nonpartisan group that supports female participation in government. The theme of the breakfast was health care, and Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, a vocal supporter of President Obama’s health-care law, spoke in a video message before Cain took to the podium.
Cain, a close friend of Robin Read -- the president and CEO of the National Foundation for Women Legislators -- did not overtly acknowledge the Democratic speakers who preceded him on stage, but he did tone down the rhetoric he’s used elsewhere on the campaign trail. Rather than say the country needs to “alter and abolish” programs like health care “deform,” as he calls it, Cain only mentioned it in passing, not getting much of a rise from the audience.
“Last night at the debate, many of you all heard about Romneycare, Obamacare, quite frankly some people don’t care,” Cain said.
He did say, however, that he was an “outspoken voice” against the Clinton health-care proposal in the 1990s, saying “it was not the right solution,” again to a mostly silent crowd –- a stark contrast with the raucous responses he usually gets to such statements.
He also did not mention his support for restructuring Medicare along the lines of Rep. Paul Ryan’s’ plan, instead focusing on his personal experience with health-care providers during his fight with colon and liver cancer, which he has been free of for five years.
He said that when he started visiting so many doctors to deal with his Stage Five cancer, he asked one of them who was in charge, to which the doctor responded, “You’re in charge.”
“That’s one of the first lessons I think we need to let everybody know. The government’s not in charge, the doctor’s not in charge, each individual is in charge of their health care,” Cain said, this time to applause.
After the women legislators’ breakfast, Cain spoke at the Iowa State Fair, using his allotted 20 minutes at the Des Moines’ Register’s soapbox to once again talk about his personal bout with cancer, telling the audience he defeated it “against all odds.”
After he spoke, Cain was asked by CNN’s Don Lemon about previous comments Cain made about Muslims in America, notably that he does not think communities should be required to allow the construction of mosques and that he would not appoint a Muslim to his cabinet.
Cain maintained he was referring strictly to Muslims who would want to impose Sharia law in America.
“What I said or what I intended got misconstrued,” Cain said. “We are a nation that recognizes and appreciates all religions. However, if there is a part of a religion that is going to basically try and change our culture, or hurt this nation, I’m going to be the first one to stand in the way. “
He said mosques should not be “categorically” banned from the United States. “It depends on what it’s being used for. Not all of them are being used just for religious purposes,” he said.
Cain addressed voters in the main squares of two Iowa towns, Albia and Sigourney, after the state fair.