Cain sees attacks on him as sign of success

Cain speaks during the 2011 Republican Leadership Conference on June 17, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The conference featured keynote addresses from most of the major Republican candidates for president as well as numerous Republican leaders from across the country. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Herman Cain

CONCORD, N.H. - GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain said Wednesday that the growing attacks on his signature 9-9-9 tax plan are a sign of his success.

At a traditional candidates' forum hosted by New Hampshire legislators in the first-in-the-nation primary state, Cain said that he was actually glad his economic plan was slammed by his Republican rivals at Tuesday night's candidates' debate at Dartmouth College. "It attracted a lot of attention at the debates last night," he said. "You know you must be doing something right when you get a lot of arrows in your back."

The former chief executive officer of Godfather's Pizza has proposed what he calls a 9-9-9 economic plan, consisting of a 9 percent national sales tax, a 9 percent flat income tax, and a 9 percent corporate tax.

Rival Jon Huntsman said he thought the plan was the price of a pizza at Tuesday's debate.

Cain and other candidates were allowed 10 minutes for remarks in a N.H. House chamber packed with legislators and spectators. Also on hand were Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, Rick Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and libertarian Gary Johnson. All of the Republican candidates for president were invited to speak, but not all of them accepted. Among the no-shows was front-runner Mitt Romney, who was scheduled for a fundraising swing through Western states.

In contrast to the frequent applause for Cain, Bachmann's comments were booed, particularly her references to the Legislature's proposed law weakening labor unions. In her comments, she said that private industry, not the government, should get idled Americans back to work. She was booed, apparently by pro-union spectators in the visitors' galleries, when she said, "This body will have a significant impact on the people of New Hampshire's ability to fully restore their economic liberty by making New Hampshire a right-to-work state."

Bachmann stumbled a bit when she was booed and heckled, but maintained her composure and reiterated her criticisms of the Obama administration's economic policies.

Cain was applauded when he struck back at Santorum's contention during the previous night's debate that Cain's economic plan would not pass Congress. "That is the difference between someone who has been in politics too long and a problem-solver," Cain said.

In their remarks, Gingrich touted his record as House speaker in the 1990s, Santorum focused on his beliefs in limited government and Johnson discussed his record as a former New Mexico governor.

  • Rodney Hawkins On Twitter»

    Rodney Hawkins covers the 2012 presidential campaign for CBS News and National Journal.

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