RICHMOND, Va. - Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain proudly touted himself as a black conservative Saturday evening, and refused to back down from comments he has repeatedly made about African Americans who vote for Democrats being "brainwashed."
In an address at the Virginia Family Foundation's annual gala - a fundraising event that drew about 1,100 people to the Greater Richmond Convention Center - Cain, a relatively new addition to the front of the pack in the race for the GOP nomination, said he had majored in math but "never took a course in political correctness."
He hammered home the point when he defended controversial remarks he had made about the political leanings of black Americans.
"[People ask], 'Why do you think so many African-American and black people vote Democrat?' I said, 'Because too many of them are brainwashed.' 'Mr. Cain, that's rather harsh, don't you think? Don't you think that's rather insulting?'" Cain said in rehashing an interview he did with MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell on Thursday. "And I say, but if you look at the entire interview, you also noticed that I indicated that a large percentage of black Americans are thinking for themselves. What a novel idea. But there are some who are brainwashed."
The former conservative radio host and pizza magnate said he has always been proud to refer to himself as "an American black conservative."
"I used to tell my listeners, I don't want anyone to label me," Cain said. "I'm going to label myself. I'm an ABC."
While much of Cain's speech focused on his personal story - including a lengthy recounting of his battle with stage-4 cancer and the role of his faith in getting him through it - Cain also took the opportunity to defend his blossoming candidacy, batting back doubts about his legitimacy and even his motives.
"I happen to believe great leaders are born," Cain said, after praising the inspirational leadership of Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr.
"Whenever there's been a great need in our history, the American people have decided who those leaders should be," Cain continued. "Not the mainstream media."