Herman Cain, an African American businessman who has never held elective office before, formally launched a campaign for the Republican presidential nomination Saturday.
Cain, the host of a conservative talk show and the former owner of Godfather's Pizza, has been actively exploring a bid since last year but made it official at a rally in Atlanta, his hometown.
"I'm running for president of the United States and I'm not running for second," he told a crowd of supporters who chanted back: "Her-MAN, Her-MAN, Her-MAN."
Wearing a dark suit and crisp white shirt, Cain introduced himself as "the son of a chauffeur and a domestic worker" who had achieved the American dream. Borrowing a phrase made famous by another Atlantan, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., he promised to set the nation "free at last" from President Obama's leadership.
Cain derided the president for his economic policies, saying his stimulus package "didn't stimulate diddily," his foreign policy, which he said "threw Israel under the bus," and his well-known reliance on a TelePrompter. "Do you want a leader or a reader?" Cain asked the crowd.
The one-time chairman of the National Restaurant Association called for lower taxes -- including elimination of the capital gains tax and a tough immigration policy that would "empower the states to deal with those who are not here legally.
"We shouldn't be suing Arizona," said Cain, referring to the federal government's fight with the state over a now-largely overturned law that would allow local law enforcement officials to demand identification papers of suspected illegal immigrants. "We should be giving them a prize."
Though he starts his campaign as a long-shot, Cain already has shown he could be a factor in the race. After the first debate of the 2012 presidential campaign season earlier this month, a a Fox News focus group declared him the winner.
Cain enjoys close ties to tea party groups, and potentially strong appeal to southerners and Evangelical conservatives. In the past year, he has visited Iowa, home of the first presidential caucuses, 14 times.
Another advantage: The Atlanta-based radio show that Cain hosted for three years before taking a campaign hiatus reached South Carolina, which hosts a crucial early primary.
Read five reasons why Cain should not be discounted as a factor in the campaign at National Journal.com.
Updated 5/23, 8:53 a.m.