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Herman Cain Tells NPR's Scott Simon Surge In Polls Means He's Hiring

<p>Herman Cain.</p>
AFP/Getty Images

Herman Cain.

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, who has surged to the top of some national presidential preference polls, told NPR's Scott Simon, host of Weekend Edition Saturday, that his fundraising has increased 20-fold in the past few weeks, and he is hiring more, much-needed staff.

In fact, he told Scott in an interview Thursday that will air on NPR Saturday, that he just "brought on an entire team" of about 10 new people to help his campaign ramp up.

"We have a lot of people willing to help," said Cain, who has gotten traction with his engaging speaking style, and a simple, if radical, 9-9-9 plan to jettison the nation's current tax plan for one that sets at 9 percent each the national sales tax, and both the federal corporate and income tax rates.

When Scott pressed Cain on whether a regressive 9 percent sales tax wouldn't disproportionately hurt struggling families, Cain responded: "I'm not going to play the class warfare card."

He claimed that under his proposal, middle-to-low income families would pay less in federal taxes, which would free up money to spend on, yes, a national sales tax.

Cain's plan has been criticized by some economists for shifting the tax burden to lower earners, and for failing raise the same revenue that the country brings in under its current tax code.

Cain has consistently claimed his plan would be "revenue neutral," as has his campaign's senior economic adviser, Rich Lowrie, a Cleveland-based wealth manager with Wells Fargo.

The men met through their involvement with Americans for Prosperity, a conservative organization that advocates cuts in taxes and government spending, opposes public employee unions, and works to rollback environmental regulations.

When Scott asked Cain to weigh in on foreign affairs, including whether he would order military action against Iran if an assassination plot against the Saudi Arabian ambassador in Washington is traced back to Tehran, Cain said he could not answer questions until he has more information.

Scott, noting that other surge candidates have gotten "staggered" when they've rising to the "varsity team," asked Cain what his experience has been like.

"I have been in the spotlight," Cain said, for years: from a five-night-a-week radio show, to corporate speechmaking, and leading Godfather's Pizza.

"Being in the spotlight, that's not new," he said. "It's not like culture shock for me."

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Liz Halloran joined NPR in December 2008 as Washington correspondent for Digital News, taking her print journalism career into the online news world.