Cain stumbles over Libya
November 14th, 2011
06:14 PM ET
6 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. springthecat

    A knowledgable and informed candidate is always preferable. Herman, how much is a large Pepperoni?

    November 15, 2011 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  2. Retired Army in San Antonio

    More dirty media tricks!

    The media needs to STOP with asking Cain all these trick questions........

    Next thing you know, they'll expect him to provide a coherant response to a domestic security question................

    November 15, 2011 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  3. max


    "Libya...Libya.....Can you use it in a sentence for me?"

    -Herman Cain

    November 15, 2011 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |

    Marcus...cut it out...I am at work reading this on the low and your post has me giggling out loud!!

    November 15, 2011 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  4. Retired Army in San Antonio

    bluedogboy Posted:
    "China and now Libya. Does this man know anything about the world we live in?"


    Plain and simply......NO.

    November 15, 2011 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  5. Sue

    anybody truly in the know... knows that the issue with libya..even though it's not on the front page of the "who" are the rebels...and "what" are their intentions... no one knows... so it's not a matter of do you agree with Obama's military intervention... but with all that is unknown...and has yet to be played out... the question is did we support the right side? I think his answer was perfect-

    November 15, 2011 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  6. PalinLovesHerb

    Poor herb, nicely cooked, but....tasteless....not even walnut topping could make it palatable.

    November 15, 2011 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  7. Kwesoe

    This is what happens when you are a Koch brother from another mother, Herman Koch. You don look so good man!

    November 15, 2011 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  8. RoseCD

    You people really need to get a life! Seriously, have you watched any of Obama's blunders? How many times does he say "uh" over and over and over again when he can't find the right words. You all really need to look at Obama before you start throwing those stones at Cain. And as far as Libya is concerned, look who is now in charge there. A whole can of worms have now been opened in the middle east with the change in Libya and Egypt. Next time Obama does one of his speeches watch how many times he pauses or says uh (count the uh's) and don't forget Obama thinks there are 57 states.

    November 15, 2011 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  9. art

    I don't think he stumbled as much as Obama did:

    November 15, 2011 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  10. WhereIsPalin

    Wanting to be president is a tough job. Being the president might be tougher yet. I'd rather answer the agree/disagree question rather than the original........"WHAT should we do Mr President?"

    November 15, 2011 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  11. Cogito

    The Republican circus would be absolutely hilarious if it weren't for the fact that these people (and Republican voters) actually consider them viable candidates...that makes it thoroughly frightening!
    Cain doesn't know that China had nukes (or as Republicans seem to call them, "new-cue-lar" weapons), has no grasp of current events, as he so clearly demonstrated with this question, and thinks job interviews involve groping women.

    November 15, 2011 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  12. JK

    Makes you cringe just watching it. Makes me laugh (hard) at and feel sad (only a little) for the republican party because this is one of their more popular candidates.

    November 15, 2011 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  13. Doc

    Mr. Cain proved why he shouldn't be anywhere near the Oval Office except as a visitor. Where ever he's getting his briefings or who ever is "coaching" him on international affairs or labor relations has done this guy no favors. Oh, he may be a "business man", but he's out of his element in politics! Somebody, call his chauffeur to take him back home!

    November 15, 2011 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  14. cony 007

    Read my lips. OBAMA 2012 Landslide!!!!!! All of you hate mongers out there you will need to move to another country. 4 more years 4 more years of OBAMACARE!!!! Love it or leave. I chose to stay and love it. The rest of you guys who hate Obama can just move to New Zealand and live with the HOBBITS!!!

    November 15, 2011 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  15. cony 007

    Uncle Tom Cain is the KOCH Brothers BOY!!!!!

    November 15, 2011 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  16. Charlie from the North

    If you added up all the intellectual prowess of the GOP candidates and then gave barack Obama a lobotomy he would still be smarter than all of them combined.

    November 15, 2011 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  17. Brett

    Herman Cain says, "Herman Cain Does NOT KNOOOOOW What Herman Cain IS talking A-bout!" (You need to read this in your favorite Herman Cain voice.

    November 15, 2011 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  18. John

    The real story here is not Herman Cain, or his incredible ignorance. The real story is the mind-boggling stupidity of the average voter. Just how exactly does a person this clueless about basic geopolitical facts even get into a position where 20% of Republican voters actually think he is qualified for the presidency? Not knowing some basic facts about the world immediately DISQUALIFIES you for this job. PERIOD. It's not an SAT test where you get to cram the night before the exam, like Palin tried to do a few years ago, or like this idiot is clearly trying to do. It's patently ridiculous that anyone even thinks that candidates who need to "get up to speed" on major issues are qualified to do this job. It's your job to KNOW the issues already, not look like you can't remember the notes you wrote on your cheat sheet. Unbelievable that anybody would be stupid enough to actually vote for this guy.

    November 15, 2011 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |

    LOL poor house Ngger. When will he realize that hes just for show?

    November 15, 2011 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  20. Geoz

    Would that all candidates pause before speaking.
    I don't support Cain, but these tests are not meaningful. You just have to admit that no GOP candidate, NONE of them, could know what the President knows about a situation. He has the entire force of the United States to find out anything. That is a lot of power my friends.

    November 15, 2011 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  21. juice

    It's like going to an interview. You know the kind of questions that could be asked so you'd prepare before you walk to an interview. I find it difficult to believe that Cain wasn't prepared to answer his stance about Libya, considering that it's such a hot topic.

    November 15, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  22. ckn92

    Buh-bye, Hermie.

    November 15, 2011 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  23. albertgo

    8 seconds? Shorter than it took the ' CLOWN IN CHIEF' to gaze at the sky before he proclaimed:


    November 15, 2011 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  24. Expat American

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

    ....Like pretty blond-haired women twirling around in his head, and how many more pizza pimp dollars he should have spent for more 'hush money'....

    November 15, 2011 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  25. Kay

    Cain. Bachman. Perry. Paul.


    ..and now Gingrich is moving up in the polls!

    Good gawd these jokers and their supporters are a laugh a minute.

    November 15, 2011 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
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