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Herman Cain, Abe Lincoln headline Republican Dinner

If you can't get “the Gipper” himself to keynote the annual Lincoln-Reagan Dinner in Plymouth, then the next best thing is to land a 'great communicator' like potential Presidential candidate, talk show host, and business commentator Herman Cain, seen here with President Abe Lincoln (Jim Miller) and Grafton County Commissioner Omer Ahern, Jr. at the Plymouth Regional Senior Center last Saturday night. (Marcia Morris) (click for larger version)
February 16, 2011
PLYMOUTH—By the end of the evening, the large crowd in attendance at the annual Lincoln-Reagan Dinner of the Pemi Baker Valley Republican Committee was on its feet with a standing ovation for the rousing oratory of the charismatic potential Presidential candidate Herman Cain.

The Plymouth Regional Senior Center was abuzz with excitement after the remarks by Cain, a retired business executive, talk show host and business commentator who is exploring a run in the upcoming New Hampshire Presidential Primary.

Of course, as a warm-up act, you can't beat the eloquence of Abe Lincoln, or else Canterbury's Jim Miller, providing a remarkable resemblance to the first Republican President, recounting the birth of the G.O.P. in Exeter in 1853, the brainchild of Amos Tuck, abolitionist Horace Greeley, and the Friends of Freedom.

President Lincoln concluded his remarks with the moving words of the Gettysburg Address, calling all to a "new birth of freedom," as meaningful now as it was when first delivered.

Cindy Downing of Plymouth was one of the local party activists honored for her dedication and energetic service at the Pemi-Baker Valley Republican Dinner on Saturday night in Plymouth. Downing was this year's recipient of the Judy Alger Award. Other honorees included volunteers John and Joan Randlett of Plymouth and Bill and Faith Tobin of Sanbornton. (Marcia Morris) (click for larger version)
It was a fitting introduction for the keynote speech by Cain. The Atlanta businessman, former Coca Cola and Pillsbury executive, owner and CEO of Godfather's Pizza, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and syndicated newspaper columnist has made a name for himself as a passionate and articulate spokesman for conservative ideals.

Cain is first out of the gate with an exploratory committee for a Republican Presidential Primary campaign, and while by his own admission he is currently considered a long shot for the nomination, he says that anyone who would discount his chances is underestimating the strength of the American spirit.

"The last time I checked, it was 'We the people', not we the politicians," said Cain, insisting that the next time around, it will be the American people who will choose their President, not the political elite. He wears his lack of experience in elective office as a badge of honor, and also cast himself as someone who would serve the people first, the party second with a solutions-oriented, problem solving style of leadership he has demonstrated throughout a highly successful 40-year business career.

Cain has an indomitable spirit of his own. Having fought a battle with Stage 4 colon and liver cancer and won, he feels he has survived to fulfill a larger purpose with whatever time, talent and treasure he can bring to bear to make the world a better place.

Cain said that he has lived his American dream, with a long, successful corporate career and 42 years of happy married life, and he feels that it is now time to pay it back.

"Two years ago, a Presidential run was the last thing on my mind," said Cain. "But after having watched and listened to what has happened in Washington, D.C. in the last two years, I am moved to enter the race. Like many other people, I believe that we are heading down the wrong track. It is time to return to the values and principles of our founding fathers."

"It's about the grandchildren," said Cain. "When you have children, you focus on their future. When you have grandchildren, you focus on the future of the country, of the world. Ask any grandparent."

In an interview at Biederman's Deli just before the speaking engagement, Cain spelled out some of the essentials of his political platform, also detailed in an informative pamphlet he left with attendees at the Lincoln-Reagan Dinner.

He said that his ideas are nothing new, but rather, they are time honored and fundamental ideas that worked well for Americans during the Reagan era and as far back as the 1920's.

He said he is in favor of decreasing the corporate tax rate from 35 to 25 percent, making the Bush tax cuts permanent so as to bring certainty to the markets in the years ahead, lowering the capital gains rate to zero to stimulate private capital flowing into small business and entrepreneurs, suspending the tax on overseas profits to lure investment back from overseas, and stimulating the economy by increasing the payroll tax holiday from two percent to the full six percent to get money back into the hands of the consumer.

Finally, he said he is in favor of relaxing the regulatory burden on U.S. businesses so that it is easier for them to be profitable here in America. "According to the Small Business Administration, the cost of regulatory compliance to businesses amounts to about $11,000 per employee in the United States," said Cain. "That translates into a lot of lost jobs."

He also said he favored an e-verify system for employers to help them do the right thing when it comes to hiring undocumented workers, and he advocates an orderly path to legal citizenship for people already here in the United States, with deportation for all those who fail to pursue legal status.

But for the most part, he reserved the details of his political positions for folks to read in his pamphlet on a solutions-oriented presidency and future appearances on the campaign trail here in New Hampshire, preferring to keep his remarks at the Reagan-Lincoln Dinner closely focused on the inspirational leadership of the founding fathers.

He recounted a time when a caller to his Fourth of July radio talk show asked him how he could so unfalteringly extol the virtues of the founding fathers when, as a black man in America, he should instead be particularly sensitive to their all-too-glaring imperfections and faults, like the owning of slaves.

"Ah, but you miss the point," said Cain to the caller. "You see, the founding fathers had the wisdom to define the nation a bar higher than themselves. They set the bar where it ought to be, above where they were in their own lives. In doing that, they gave all Americans the opportunity to work up to their ideals. That's the spirit of America."

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