In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Herman Cain: Most Black People Too Poor To Tea Party


"They can't afford to," Cain said. "So I think the first reason is economics. If you just look at the sheer economics of it."

"If you look at the typical income of a black family of four it's going to be lower than a non-black or white family of four," he explained. "Generally speaking on average, white families are much more economically prosperous than black families. So, many black families don't have the economic flexibility to go to a CPAC conference."

Most tea partiers, Cain said, "own their own business, or they have the type of job where they have the flexibility where they can go to the rally."

"Or they're retired," he added.

That's just not the kind of job African Americans have, he said.

"If you are a blue collar, hourly worker and you're not the business owner, you're not going to take off or ask your boss to take off unpaid to go to a rally," he said.

Cain was rare in that as a minority conservative leader he declined to criticize the conservative movement or the GOP for the lack of diversity at tea party events or rallies. White Republican leaders have often said they need to do more to reach out for more racial diversity, and other prominent African Americans on the Republican side have said the same thing.

Asked about the sea of white faces that greet the visitor at nearly any conservative gathering -- even some focused on racial diversity -- Cain said there were two extra factors that went beyond economics. Population demographics was one answer, he said, and the other was what he called Democratic "demagoguing" of the Republican party and conservatism.

"Anecdotally, I happen to believe that at least a third of blacks who vote are conservative," Cain said. "But the left has intimidation tactics that cause some people who may not be as outspoken as I am to stay silent."

There's been some evidence in past polling that Cain may be right about the ideology of African Americans, but 2010 exit polls showed the African American vote was around 90% Democratic.

As for the population numbers, Cain said it's unrealistic to expect a large African American contingent at conservative events when one factors in the racial makeup of the country and the economic breakdown of blacks vs. whites.

"if you see 100 out of 1000 black faces in the audience, that's par for the course [based on population numbers]," Cain said. "What lowers that is economics."