GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain rolled out an economic plan in this pivotal primary state Wednesday firmly believing it would drop unemployment to no more than 5 percent, but he acknowledged he was still crunching the numbers.
Cain's first campaign stop in this early-voting state was greeted with applause by about six dozen people at the NEXT Innovative Center, which supports high-tech start-ups and entrepreneurs.
The former CEO of Godfather's Pizza advocated a maximum tax of 25 percent on company profits and personal income, and end to the capital gains tax.
He said the U.S. must get its debt under control and that companies should not pay taxes on overseas profits that are invested back home.
A national sales tax should replace the federal income tax, he said, giving individuals and companies "certainty" about making purchases and investments. He wants a "restructuring" of Social Security so people can invest in their own retirement funds.
"This economic vision will produce a job for every home," he said. "Get government out of the way, get government off our backs and get the government out of our pockets."
In a brief interview after his remarks, Cain said he could not put an exact figure on how many jobs his plan might create.
"I don't have a number, we are working on that," he said. "But if we do these things, I am convinced the unemployment rate would be 5 percent or less."
South Carolina's unemployment in May was 10 percent, the seventh-highest in the country. Nationally, the jobless rate was 9.1 percent.
Cain joked that he had to join the ranks of the unemployed in order to pursue his mission of gaining the presidency, but that risk-taking was the heart of being a successful entrepreneur.
"I took the risk of being unemployed to become president," he said.
The 65-year-old businessman, talk show host and author was greeted enthusiastically at the center.
"I love what he had to say about Social Security," said Maria Jose Lehman, 45, of Greenville. Lehman said she worked for a financial services firm and is convinced that young people should be allowed to save for their own retirement.