Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain told Hotsheet Wednesday that racist accusations about the movement are "ridiculous."
"I have been speaking to Tea Parties, Americans for Prosperity, since 2009, before it was cool," Cain said, before pointing to victories in recent straw polls. "...If the Tea Party organization is racist, why does the black guy keep winning all these straw polls?"
Asked if part of his appeal to the Tea Party is that he is an African-American carrying a conservative message, Cain said no.
"They really wouldn't care if I was green, red, blue or yellow - seriously," he said. "That's not the reason why. There is no remorse about - 'OK, we voted for President Obama, we're trying to send a message that the conservatives are not racist.' No. I don't believe that's it at all."
Cain said he does not feel that President Obama did not use race to get elected. But he said "a lot of his supporters use race selectively to try to cover up some of his failures, to try to cover up some of his failed policies."
Mr. Obama's surrogates, Cain said, "try to play the race card because there's supposed to be something wrong with criticizing him."
"We have the right to criticize any elected official constructively," he added.
"Some people have tried to use [race] to try to give the president a pass on failed policies, bad decisions and the fact that this economy is not doing what it's supposed to do."