CONCORD, N.H. — Contrasting his black experience with that of President Obama, Republican presidential contender Herman Cain said Wednesday that, after growing up in the racially segregated South, he’s still connected with the trials and travails of the black community — a connection symbolized by the fact that “my church is still in the ‘hood.”
Mr. Obama’s upbringing “was very different than mine, I grew up in the South and the ‘50s and ‘60s,” Mr. Cain told reporters here a day after a Republican presidential debate in which he was the frequent target of criticism from his rivals. “I was the son of a working dad who worked three jobs. We grew up in segregated areas and segregated schools, lived through the desegregation of those. I lived through the transitions that black people have lived through in this country, unlike President Obama.”
“I still connect,” he added. “My church is still in the ‘hood, it is the same church I grew up in.”
Mr. Cain said the churchgoers he worships with come from a variety of backgrounds, ranging from the poor, to the middle-class and the rich — as well as educated people who can’t land a job.
“I associated with that whole spectrum of folk. So I am in touch,” he said.
The former Godfather’s Pizza CEO made the remarks after delivering a speech at the New Hampshire statehouse, where he made a pitch to supporters of front-runner Mitt Romney, the former governor of neighboring Massachusetts.
“Those of you who do not support him, I’m asking for your support,” he told the crowd packed into the House chamber. “And those of you who do support him, I’m asking you to reconsider.”