HERMAN CAIN (AP Photo/File)
by Shannon Travis
WASHINGTON (CNN) — As the Republican Party struggles with ways to attract more African-Americans to its party, one of their own former, African-American presidential candidates could throw a wrench in their plan.
Herman Cain insisted Monday he does not want to be called Republican for fear of being saddled with the “dumb things” Republicans have said in the past. Cain also said the black conservative movement is “different from the Republican brand.”
To be sure, Cain is not straying from his conservative stances. Instead, he hopes to entice even more African-Americans to join the Black conservative movement.
Yet Cain insisted that’ll happen by Black conservatives pushing a collaborative message — and by separating Black conservatism from the GOP.
The recruitment effort will work “by separating the two brands,” Cain said. “The ABC or the [Black] conservative movement is different from the Republican brand. So I’m not here to defend the Republican brand.”
Cain’s comments came after a small coming together of about a dozen other Black conservatives in Washington over Sunday night and Monday morning. The group, Cain said, labeled itself, ABC or, “American Black Conservatives.” Their goal: plot ways to convince more African-Americans to join the conservative movement.
Cain explained the inspiration behind the “American Black Conservatives” moniker.
“I put that on the table because I use that on my radio show,” Cain said. “When people call me, they want to call me, ‘You Republicans.’ Stop right there. Don’t label me. Or they want to call me other ugly names. I say, I’ll label myself.”
“We do not want to be labeled Democrats. We do not want to be labeled Republicans. This is about conservative values. That we all share.”
When a reporter reminded Cain he actually ran as a Republican in last year’s presidential race, Cain bristled.
“I did,” he insisted. “This is my point. You can be conservative, and run as a Republican…you might be able to be a conservative and run on some Democratic ticket in some races.”
Cain stressed he will likely continue to vote Republican, as he has in the past. Yet he emphatically stressed his point about the party label.
“Don’t call me a Republican,” Cain said. “Here’s why I’m making the distinction. If I allow somebody to label me a Republican, then they’re going to drag up all of the negative perceptions of other Republicans — of dumb things they’ve said.”
“I’m not here to defend the entire Republican Party,” Cain added. “I can’t do that. But I can defend my beliefs.”
Cain added: “This is what’s wrong with the narrative that shows up in the press. People want to try and make conservative and Republican the same thing. They are not. They are not.”
CNN reached out to the Republican National Committee but did not receive a response.
Cain said he and his group’s members are overwhelmingly concerned with the plight of the nation’s economy. Yet they are particularly worried about African-Americans.
“I, along with my guests, are disturbed about the state of the Black community in America,” Cain said. “Even more so, than the state of the country in general. When you look at welfare, when you look at unemployment, when you look at food stamps, when you look at graduation rates. And so, all my guests would be able to bring a black perspective to how we need to one: begin to address these issues — and two, they will bring a perspective in terms of how do we shape the narrative to make it a part of — what the RNC is going to be talking about, what some of the other think tanks are going to be talking about.”