(Michael Patrick / Knoxville…)
Reporting from Harriman, Tenn. — Herman Cain, as anyone who has been paying attention knows, wants to scrap the federal tax code and replace it with a plan (9-9-9) that he claims will revive the economy and produce millions of new jobs.
But what else, the voting citizenry may ask, does Cain plan to do once he takes office? How about foreign policy?
“People say to me, ‘How will you contain Iran?’” said Cain. “Sanctions aren’t working. The U.S. has warships equipped with ballistic missile defense capability. We’re going to strategically place them in the right parts of the world, and then just wait for somebody to attack our friends or try to attack us.”
Saturday, in his own colloquial way, Cain elaborated on his thinking about the Iranian president.
“Ahmadinejad might feel froggish but he’s not gonna jump,” Cain told several hundred people at a tea party gathering-cum-campaign rally at a community college in Harriman, a bucolic town in East Tennessee. (Roughly translated, the Iranian president is itching for a fight, but probably won’t start it himself.)
As he toured his native Tennessee during a two-day visit, Cain, a successful business executive before becoming a radio host and motivational speaker, readily acknowledged that he has no foreign policy experience.
“And the guy in there now does?” he asked, sarcasm dripping as he alluded to President Obama in a speech at Tennessee Technical University in Cookeville.
“You don’t need all the details if you have a philosophy,” explained Cain, standing on the steps of an imposing brick building, its white columns gleaming in the faultless autumn sunshine. “My foreign policy is an extension of the Reagan Doctrine, ‘peace through strength.’ The Cain doctrine is ‘peace through strength and clarity:’ clarify who our friends are and clarify who our enemies are and stop giving money to our enemies.”
“My approach would not revolve around singing ‘Kumbaya,’” said Cain. “There’s only one thing countries like Korea and Iran understand – strength.”
Cain has already dipped his toe into the touchy area of diplomacy with Israel.
On a visit to that country, he said, he met with a deputy prime minister who told him (as Cain relayed it), “One of the problems we have is not knowing where we stand with the U.S.”
To allay the official’s fears, said Cain, “I used an old Southern expression. The Cain doctrine will be, ‘If you messin’ with Israel, you messing’ with the United States of America.”
As for Obama’s intention to draw down troops in Afghanistan, said Cain, “The last thing I’m gonna do as commander-in-chief is to send a press release to the enemy telling them what we’re gonna do.
“I grew up in a rough part of Atlanta,” he said, “And sometimes I was confronted by bullies that wanted to beat me and my brother up. So I put my hands in my pocket. But I didn’t tell them what was in my pocket.”
Closer to home, Cain said, when he’s confronted with people who say it’s impossible to seal the country’s southern border, he simply tells them, “We can build a fence. I just got back from China….”