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First abortion, now 9-9-9. Is Herman Cain waffling?

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain was forced to defend comments on abortion that angered conservatives. Now, he's introducing exceptions to his 9-9-9 tax plan. This week, at least, Herman Cain appears to be struggling in the spotlight.

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Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain addresses the crowd during a campaign stop to launch his 'Economic opportunity zone plan' – which includes exemptions to his 9-9-9 plan – in front of the closed Michigan Central Train Station in Detroit.

Rebecca Cook/REUTERS

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Herman Cain is having one of the more improbable presidential campaigns in American history. Or at least of this cycle.

Once seen as a long-shot novelty act, the former pizza magnate is now getting the scrutiny of a front-runner, forcing him to tweak his 9-9-9 plan, reassure conservatives on abortion, and add staff. At least his fundraising has picked up, his campaign reports.

Speaking Friday morning in a run-down neighborhood in Detroit, Mr. Cain reacted to bipartisan criticism of his 9-9-9 plan – catchy for its simplicity – and made it a bit less simple. He would now allow some deductions, and set up “opportunity zones” to attract business investment in depressed neighborhoods. He suggested eliminating the minimum wage in struggling areas to boost employment.

At Tuesday’s debate in Las Vegas, 9-9-9 came under fierce attack from the other Republicans on stage, with data showing it would raise taxes for most Americans, in particular low-income people and the middle class. Cain’s original plan would eliminate all current taxes, including on capital gains, and replace them with a 9 percent tax on personal income, a 9 percent national sales tax, and a 9 percent business tax.

“When I look at this building behind me, I see opportunity – if we get capital gains out of the way,” Cain said after his speech in Detroit, according to the Associated Press.

“Because taxes and regulations have gotten so bad, people with money don’t want to take risks,” he added.

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