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NBC's Curry to Herman Cain: Was Fla. Straw Poll Win Just a 'Protest Vote'?; Cain: People More Powerful Than Media

In an interview with Herman Cain on Monday's NBC Today, co-host Ann Curry declared: "The Washington Post is reporting that many of the delegates voted for you – are saying that they voted for you as a protest vote to express no confidence in the Republican field. Do you want to weigh in on this?" [Audio available here]

Cain fired back at the report: "I think that is absolutely false. I talked to a lot of delegates when I was in Florida all last week. It's not a protest vote. Look, the message coming out of that victory was quite simple. First of all, the voice of the people is more powerful than the voice of the media....the people are listening to the message and not simply, with all due respect, just to the media."



The Today show only interviewed Cain once prior to Monday, and that was on the 4th of July, hardly a widely-watched broadcast. At that time, fill-in co-host Savannah Guthrie grilled him: "You said essentially you're inexperienced, the fact that you have never been elected and never held public office is a plus. My question to you is, if you were still a CEO, if you were in business, would you hire someone for a key role who had no experience whatsoever in business?"

Wrapping up the Monday interview, Curry managed to squeeze in a plug for NBC's Saturday Night Live and its mocking of Cain: "...the spoofing that SNL gave the Republican debates. And apparently you were spoofed as well. They made fun of your having no government experience and that you used to run a pizza company. Did SNL help you write your next campaign slogan, sir?"

Cain responded with good humor: "I loved that SNL spoof. It didn't offend me at all because it basically was a good spoof about, 'Yes, vote for me and I will deliver.' I couldn't have come up with a better one myself so I'm going to take that one and run with it."

Here is a full transcript of the September 26 interview:

7:01AM ET TEASE:

LESTER HOLT: I think it's fair to say the name Herman Cain was not on a lot of people's radar before this weekend, not really considered a viable candidate for president.

ANN CURRY: That's absolutely right, he's been trailing in the polls. But on Saturday, he didn't just win the Florida straw poll, he dominated with 37% of the vote, more than double any other candidate. Is his message starting to connect with voters or was it more of a vote against the Republican front-runners? We're going to talk about that to Mr. Cain coming up straight ahead.

7:06AM ET SEGMENT:

CURRY: Herman Cain is with us this morning, fresh off his win from the Florida straw poll. Mr. Cain, good morning.

HERMAN CAIN: Good morning. Thank you.

CURRY: You bet. Congratulations. You won big, what, 37% to Perry's 15% and Perry was widely expected to win. But The Washington Post is reporting that many of the delegates voted for you – are saying that they voted for you as a protest vote to express no confidence in the Republican field. Do you want to weigh in on this?

CAIN: I think that is absolutely false. I talked to a lot of delegates when I was in Florida all last week. It's not a protest vote. Look, the message coming out of that victory was quite simple. First of all, the voice of the people is more powerful than the voice of the media. Secondly, message is more powerful than money. Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, they both spent a considerable amount of money in order to try to influence that Florida straw poll. I rented a bus and went all over the state talking to people, sharing my message. That's what made the difference. And we're very proud of that and it's encouraging to us in terms of the fact that the people are listening to the message and not simply, with all due respect, just to the media.

CURRY: Well, let's talk about, though, this other factor, which is how Rick Perry did in the presidential debates. You shine in these presidential debates. How much do you think his performance hurt him?

CAIN: I believe it hurt him a lot because – not just in terms of what he said but in terms of how he said it. And now that I've been through five debates, I've got to tell you, you become – you become a little bit better at it. You understand the rules. You understand how you have to respond very quickly, which means that it's more than being able to come in with some prepared sound bites. You can't come into a debate like this with prepared sound bites, especially when you have as many candidates. I simply come in prepared on the facts and then I respond based upon my emotions, my feelings, and what my true opinions are about some of the issues. I think it definitely was a negative for him in the last debate.

CURRY: You have been expressing a lot of opinions about the economy and you talked earlier about your message. So let's talk about that briefly. You know, you're you a business man. Besides reducing what you see as a crushing regulatory and tax burden on business, how would you get corporations to suddenly start investing this $2 trillion in cash that they're sitting on to get this economy moving again, getting people jobs again?

CAIN: Unlike all of my competitors in this race, they are trying to tinker around the edges by trying to recommend a fix based upon the current tax code. My plan starts with throw out the tax code. It's bold. Because this economy is on life support. And then pass my 999 plan. A 9% business flat tax, a 9% personal tax, and a 9% national sales tax. It'll replace the payroll tax, corporate and personal income taxes, the capital gains tax, and also replace – it would also replace the death tax.

Businesses will get excited about it because it will provide certainty. And they won't be penalized for bringing some of those trillions of dollars back home. Certainty is what the American business community is looking for. The business community represents the engine of growth. And that's why my 999 plan is appealing to so many business people, as well as many workers across America.

CURRY: Meantime, you saw earlier in our report the spoofing that SNL gave the Republican debates. And apparently you were spoofed as well. They made fun of your having no government experience and that you used to run a pizza company. Did SNL help you write your next campaign slogan, sir?

CAIN: You may hear that last line in my next debate performance. I loved that SNL spoof. It didn't offend me at all because it basically was a good spoof about, 'Yes, vote for me and I will deliver.' I couldn't have come up with a better one myself so I'm going to take that one and run with it.

CURRY: Alright, Herman Cain, thank you so much this morning. It is great talking to you.

CAIN: Thanks, Ann. My pleasure.

CURRY: You bet.

- Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.