Cain stumbles over Libya
November 14th, 2011
06:14 PM ET
3 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. NO TEA PLEASE

    Excuse me ,excuse me Herman Cain! U are not fit to be POTUS.

    November 15, 2011 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  2. M

    Herman yo Pizza is smoking just like yo campaign

    November 15, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  3. coy4one

    Oh yeah......Lybia....isn't that just the place that all the liberals live? But then again, not sure in what context the question was asked......sorry, I am still trying to figure out what to do about China developing nuclear weapons.

    November 15, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  4. Mack

    Thank the Koch brothers for this clown.

    November 15, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  5. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Mittens the Flip-Flopper is going to get flipped on the mat by Obama, and laid out flat.
    Newt The Scandal laden mongrel is weaving and dodging and trying to save his strenght in the unlikely event that he has to face President Obama in a debate.
    Americans have a short memory Newt....but not that short. You're not getting the nomination.
    Cain....I hope you've sold a lot of books 'cause you're done bud. The Koch brothers called and they want a refund on their investment.

    November 15, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  6. Leslie

    Cain is plain and simply a joke! He needs to be prosecuted for harassing those women too!

    November 15, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  7. Marc

    Cain is an idiot! Hilarious! This is the Tea Party/GOP choice? Ha Ha!

    November 15, 2011 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  8. LeeCMH

    And God told Cain to run for president.

    November 15, 2011 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  9. mike b

    Hey, who cares about Libya when China is developing NUCLEAR WEAPONS. They will have the H-Bomb by 1964.

    November 15, 2011 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  10. allen

    I know, I know...it's Obama's fault. Sorry teabags.

    November 15, 2011 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  11. Saul Quinn

    This just about nails the coffin to the Cain Presidency. He is now acting like a ding bat. He would be fired for Performance problems for his stupid comments today on Libya. I think he is more familiar with labia than Libya or Syria.

    November 15, 2011 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  12. Voltairine

    "Ticker: Cain's big stumble" ... the latest anyway, if you're keeping track of them as they go by.

    November 15, 2011 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  13. NHLori

    Definitely the part I liked the best was when he appeared to be scrolling in the cobwebs of his memory for the "correct" denial of President Obama's policy. Realizing he didn't recall the right talking point, he fell apart again. But if he's running as a non-politician, he sure sounds like one, with his "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?" Huh? Especially befuddling for someone who apparently didn't even know where this admin stands on the issue and what they're doing.

    November 15, 2011 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  14. domokun

    It depends on what you mean when you say, "Libya." See, we need some clarification. If, for instance, when you say, 'What is your policy on Libya," we have to understand what you mean by "is." Two, we need some assessments and clarification regarding what you mean when you say "policy." See, as a former pizza CEO, Herman Cain likes to see all the facts before he decides, because that's the way Herman Cain Rolls. Three....um....what was that third one.....um...oh wait, that's the other brilliant tea party leader.

    November 15, 2011 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  15. Stan

    Here he is folks... leading candidate of the GOP for president.

    November 15, 2011 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  16. aggie95

    He disagrees w/ the president's decision, but doesn't really know what that decision was. Then he goes on to say he would have had to have more information, when the elephant in the room is OBVIOUSLY the current president did have the information and made a decision. How can you disagree w/ someone's position w/o understanding the facts or know what information that were basing their decision on? Oh, that's right, he's Obama so I MUST disagree. Then he says they may have ended up at the same outcome. How pathetic! Mr. Cain....SIT YO' BEHIND DOWN! Running a business is NOT the same as being POTUS. If that were the case, any successfull businessman would be qualified.

    November 15, 2011 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  17. Bobby

    Ron Paul! The only sane one who will change this country for the better!

    November 15, 2011 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  18. flipper

    Nein Nein Nein.

    That's all I have to say. This guy should be banned from even being in the debates. My left butt cheek knows more about foreign policy than this guy does.

    He's like..."Well, I did real good when I charged 9.99 for a pizza, so Im just gonna stick with what I know."

    November 15, 2011 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  19. Limp brains breath easy in GOP

    THat's it! He's Homer Simpson with a yellow tie!!

    November 15, 2011 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  20. Stan

    Big red flag here and like all the others, he'll try to blame it on others. It's the GOP way.

    November 15, 2011 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  21. parentof6

    This reminds me of President Obama when he was on the campaing trail stating that he had been to 57 states or trying to explain how a child with asthma would be prescribed a breathalizer or even this week when in Hawaii he referred to himself as being in Asia. Guess all you brillant people missed those gaffes.

    November 15, 2011 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  22. Debbie

    Amazing how CNN only allows comments that reinforce their liberal bias... "Your comment is awaiting moderation" ...right I understand that I don't fit the template of your liberal views and your mostly liberal audience...I have been trying to send these posts for almost an 1:10???

    November 15, 2011 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  23. Corporations R. People II

    LOL @ Jim E. Too funny James.
    "I would rather have a politician pause and offer a real answer than parrot the same politically correct response. Herman is competent, accomplished and far superior a choice than the man who thinks we have 57 states in office now."

    You managed to trot out the standard 57 states tripe. Fortunately for America, the majority of us disagree with you. To your credit, at least you didn't dare try the "Cain would destroy Obama in a debate" fantasy. Four and the Door. Four women have come forward and now on top that, we have Libya.......no, that's a different one (searching for canned response talking point)....there's the door Herb. Epic fail.

    November 15, 2011 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  24. SMay

    Cain: 1 Gaffe
    Obama: Countless Gaffe's and can't speak two sentences without his dear teleprompter.

    November 15, 2011 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  25. Kevin Quail

    Cain is not able.

    November 15, 2011 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20