Cain stumbles over Libya
November 14th, 2011
06:14 PM ET
2 years ago

Cain stumbles over Libya

(CNN) - Former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain took a moment Monday to clarify his position on Libya: He needs more information.

After an uncomfortable eight-second pause to collect his thoughts, the GOP contender explained that he would need to know more before he could unequivocally agree or disagree with President Barack Obama's actions in the conflicted country.

Cain was meeting with the editorial board of the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel when Libya came up.

"Okay, Libya," he responded when asked whether he agreed with President Obama's actions in the region. Eight seconds later, after looking up, biting his lip and blinking repeatedly, Cain asked, "President Obama supported the uprising, correct?"

"I just want to make sure we're talking about the same thing before I say 'Yes, I agree' or 'No, I do not agree."

But just as Cain, a former conservative talk radio host, started to respond to the question, he then changed his mind.

"I do not agree with the way he handled it for the following reasons - um, no, that's a different one," he said, before uncrossing and crossing his legs, shifting position in his seat, and adjusting his jacket.

"Let's see, I've got to go back, see," he continues. "(I've) got all this stuff twirling around in my head."

"Are you asking me did I agree or not agree with Obama?"

Cain finally settled on a response after hearing the question rephrased a second time.

"It's not a simple yes/no because there are different pieces and I would've gone about assessing the situation differently, which might have caused us to end up at the same place, but I think more could've been done was, what's the nature of the opposition?"

He explained that he would have gotten more information on determining who the opposition was, but said, "I'm sure that our intelligence people had some of that information." Although he declined to criticize the president, Cain said he didn't think enough was done.

And before he was challenged on the clarity of his response, Cain asserted, "I'm not trying to hedge on the questions, it's just that's my nature as a businessman, I need to know all of the facts, I would need to know all of the alternatives."

"It's not a clear yes/no," he said again. "Because of all those things I think that should have been assessed… I don't know that they were or were not assessed."

"I didn't see reports of that assessment."

Campaign spokesman J.D. Gordon described the video of Cain's awkward moment as "out of context in some measure."

"He just had to think about it," Gordon said, because the candidate "had been getting a lot of briefings on the subtleties of the Arab Spring."

Gordon pointed out that Cain had been fielding questions from several editorial board members for 45 minutes and "skipping around from every topic from A to Z."

Cain's popularity fell 11 points in a CNN/ORC International Poll released Monday, falling to third place behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Cain's candidacy has been plagued by allegations of sexual harassment in recent weeks, which he has said are not true.

And he had a simple explanation for his apparent stumble at an event in Wisconsin late Monday: “I mean, they asked me a question about Libya, and I paused…so I could gather my thoughts," he said. "You know, it’s really complimentary when people start documenting my pauses. You know it’s one thing to document every word. It was a pause. That’s all it was. Good grief.”

–CNN's Steve Brusk contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2012 • Herman Cain • Libya
soundoff (487 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    I've said it all along, and I will say it again. Herman Cain is running to be Chairman-In-Chief. He has no clue what the job of POTUS really entails. He probably thinks that he will get a day off once in a while.

    November 14, 2011 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    Would someone please ask Mr. Cain what are his sources for news and current events?

    November 14, 2011 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  3. Unhappy with the candidates

    Does he even know where Libya is?

    November 14, 2011 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  4. WHOOSH

    Next in line please...Newty; What's your story this time? well, we are NOT buying it!

    Stuck with chuck Romney. My question to Romney and it is never asked. 5 rich boys zero service to the country. Why?
    Why? and you want to save America. Give us your first born. Maybe

    November 14, 2011 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  5. Woman In California

    I think Mr. Cain thinks being POTUS is a business venture. His answer just confirmed what we all knew about the GOP and that is to go AGAINST anything the president is for even if you don't understand the issues.

    Thank you Mr. Cain for reaffirming YOUR party is only out for one thing. To make our president a one term president at all costs.

    November 14, 2011 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  6. Joan

    Cain has done nothing in thought, word, or deed to come close to the dastardly deeds of Newt!!!!

    November 14, 2011 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  7. Brenda

    Oh Herman, your done. Pack it up, the party's over.

    November 14, 2011 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    This is the problem with not knowing these things going into the presidential race. There are too many countires, too much history, and too many leaders to think that one can get "caught up to speed" in a short period of time.

    November 14, 2011 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC

    At the Fox Debate in early May, Mr. Cain expressed some pretty clear cut opinions that he disagreed with Obama on Libya policy. Six months later he draws a blank? The only unanswered question about Mr. Cain now is who is he going to blame for this failure.

    November 14, 2011 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  10. webtraveler

    This is the problem with not knowing these things going into the presidential race. There are too many countires, too much history, and too many leaders to think that one can get "caught up to speed" in a short period of time.

    November 14, 2011 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  11. Toad 390

    This turkey is done before Thanksgiving. Too bad there is not one viable candidate. On congress throw the bums out.

    November 14, 2011 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  12. rearden215

    The election cycle's Sarah Palin has been officially identified.

    November 14, 2011 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    What a silly man he turned out to be.
    -
    So, they asked Herman if he disagreed with Obama on Libya.. in his hurry he quickly answers "yes" because he knows all Republcians are trained to disagree wven when the President is right (which is most of the time). Poor Herman couldn't think of a reason to disagree though. Silly Herman.

    November 14, 2011 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  14. Elizabeth

    Another one bites the dust!

    November 14, 2011 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  15. tcaros

    Silly Herman couldn't think of why he diagrees with the President on LIbya.
    -
    Like a good trained Republican he was quick to disagree, but didn't know for what.

    November 14, 2011 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  16. Deep North

    Simple answers are the best...Listen closely Herman..."Of course I support the President of the United States. He is my President. Yes I want his job, but until then and until I have the gathering of intelligence that he has, I defer to his decision"

    November 14, 2011 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  17. SecedingfromTexas

    I thought he was trying to re-enact the SNL skit on Perry.

    November 14, 2011 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  18. from ohio

    a true politician, yes, no, maybe

    November 14, 2011 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  19. Kimo

    Great. Let's put someone in the toughest job in the world who doesn't even read the newspapers. He didn't even know the Chinese have had nukes for forty years. How pathetic that this person is taken seriously by anyone as a candidate.

    November 14, 2011 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  20. kinglywarrior

    "Libya!? I didn't touch that woman at all! She's a liar...OH, not Lydia? LIBYA....yeah I dunno"

    HELLO, these are NOT smart people GOP.

    November 14, 2011 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  21. Harald

    Cain seems to be just another moron. Instead of stumbling around, the best would be to say "I don't know". Nobody can know everything all the time, although, he should at least know Obama's position on Libya. For that he doesn't need much background info.

    November 14, 2011 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  22. Ken Nelson

    Even I know my position on Lybya, and I'm not even running for dogcatcher.

    November 14, 2011 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  23. Livin' the good life

    Cough...cough...let...me...think...Can...I...have...a...drink...of...water?...oh...that...could...you...restate...the...question...please... Gotta think faster than that if you want to be the leader of the best country in the world mister Cain...SC

    November 14, 2011 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  24. rr

    The President of the United states.......... Wow. Good luck with that.

    November 14, 2011 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  25. Liza

    This goes to show you, the Cain is merely a Republican business man all for protecting the wealthy's tax cuts. The only thing he can really talk about is the 9-9-9- plan and how to pursue a "conservative approach" in fixing out economy. But when it comes to world, foreign affair and humanitarian issues, he is going to fail in presenting himself I think.

    November 14, 2011 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
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