Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain made only indirect references to recent sexual harassment allegations but addressed a slew of other topics — from his famed tax plan to technology’s role in economic growth — at a speaking engagement in Northern Virginia on Wednesday.

Cain received a warm welcome and several bouts of laughter and applause in a ballroom full of Northern Virginia Technology Council members at the Ritz-Carlton in McLean, Virginia.

“Being in the midst of technology people, I feel like I’m home again,” said Cain, who noted what he learned to obtain a master’s degree in computer science from Purdue is long since outdated.

I don’t believe in letting other nations catch up to us militarily or economically. The engine of economic growth is the business sector.” – Herman Cain

Some in the audience acknowledged privately that they attended simply for entertainment or to see whether the GOP presidential hopeful would address recent sexual harassment allegations.

Cain referred to the public and the media trying to “destroy” him as part of the typical process a political candidate endures, but otherwise refrained from specific comments regarding the allegations.

Instead, he talked about the tax code and his well-publicized “999 plan” as well as immigration, healthcare, energy and updating the Navy’s Aegis fleet. He also addressed business and technology as they pertain to government and the national economy.

“We’re going to make it difficult for Iran to pay their bills because we’re going to become energy independent,” he said. “I don’t believe in letting other nations catch up to us militarily or economically. The engine of economic growth is the business sector and if you want to grow the economy you have to put fuel in the engine, not the caboose. Spending is putting fuel in the caboose and I’ve never seen a caboose push an engine up a hill.”

Cain was the first to speak as part of an NVTC series featuring presidential candidates. Wednesday’s event was also sponsored by the Consumer Electronics Association.

NVTC Chair Brad Antle said Mitt Romney has agreed to speak (date pending) and an invitation was extended to President Obama.

“Technology and innovation, as you know, play a huge part in spurring economic growth in this area,” Antle told the audience. “We want to engage with the presidential candidates to ensure they know this going forward.”

After Cain’s speech, Vincent M. Brown, a partner with Alphom Group LLC in Herndon, Virginia, asked Cain how he would address the nation’s dependence on Chinese technology manufacturing as well as national cybersecurity.

“My strategy is to outgrow China,” Cain said. “An increased demand for goods coming from China, that’s our leverage.”

Brown later told Breaking Gov that while the answer wasn’t perfect, he was satisfied at having the opportunity to raise the issue.

“That Aegis fleet he’s talking about has to be built with Chinese technology. Everything from our cell phones to this wondrous gadget that I have in my hand is built overseas,” he said, holding up his iPad. “It wouldn’t be that hard to turn all of it off, if you know what I’m saying. I’m sure he doesn’t know all we know with our clearances, but we put the bug in his ear.”