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. ckn92

    Unhappy with the candidates – "Does he even know where Libya is?"

    Well, one thing's for sure – He can't see it from his backyard....

    November 15, 2011 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  2. ed

    I bet Cain knows where HI is. Hey obama HI is NOT in Asia!

    November 15, 2011 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  3. Aaron

    He disagrees with how something was handled but has no way to explain himself and obviously knows very little about it.

    This guy is too dumb to be arrogant too. There's no point even mentioning his name since he only speaks in third person anyway. I'm surprised he didn't say his own name a half dozen times in this response.

    November 15, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  4. Kay

    This is what the Almost-Always-Wrong-Right gets for mocking intellectualism.

    November 15, 2011 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  5. Olaf Big

    Geoz, you don't need the full power of the U.S. to know the basic facts. George W. Bush had the said full power and insisted contrary to common sense and obvious facts that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, whereas the rest of the world was just reading papers and knew that WMD in Iraq is utter nonsense.

    November 15, 2011 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  6. ed

    Excuse me Moderator, I'm seeing a lot racist slurs being used toward Cain. Are you asleep at the wheel or is this the official CNN position? I'd like to know before I send this link over to Fox News.

    November 15, 2011 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  7. mysoc

    if you do not know where you stand on the US supported Al Qaeda conquest of Lybia you should not be in this race

    November 15, 2011 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  8. Kevin in Oly

    I'm a liberal through and through. However, if I were a Republican watching the nominees pander for votes, I would be shaking my head and asking "You gotta be kidding me! Is this the best we can come up with?" You better believe a host of independent voters are thinking the same thing. As it is, every time the Repubs get together on stage for a debate, someone is going to say (or not say) or do something stupid and the polls will reflect it. It is priceless entertainment though, I'll give them that. Kind of like watching "Debating With The Morons."

    November 15, 2011 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  9. John

    Geoz, that's not the point. My God, just listening to the news or even reading the most basic website (including THIS ONE) would tell a person SOMETHING about Libya, and give them SOME basic facts about what is going on. Not to mention that he's a complete idiot if he didn't realize that he was eventually going to be asked about this. He's supposed to have an answer for these questions, even if it's a coached answer. His clear lack of preparation for obvious questions that he KNOWS he's going to be asked shows exactly how incompetent he (and his campaign managers) clearly are. A retarded gerbil could have turned in a better answer than what he said on this issue. Unbelievable that this level of clear incompetence is actually in the running for the most powerful position in the world.

    November 15, 2011 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  10. tim43

    And this man want be president of the United States.

    November 15, 2011 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  11. Reasonably

    Bring on the adulterer Newt! HooRAY for conservative values!

    November 15, 2011 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  12. The Real Tom Paine

    John, the average GOP voter seems to pride himself/herself on being deliberately uninformed or misinformed by Uncle Rupert's propaganda network. The fact that ANY of these top-tier candidates could be considered for any serious position is cause to look at the sad state of the current GOP mindset. Denial and fantasy rule their cartoon world, where alternately devious and incompetant Liberals calling the shots in concert with Mullahs, climate scientist and union thugs. If it weren't happening in front of us, it would be a script Mel Brooks would have been hard pressed to come up with. Its too bad that anyone si buying this.

    November 15, 2011 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  13. Corporations R. People II

    LOL at the Cain defenders here. Keep digging. Herb is great, please nominate Herb for the general election, the entertainment value for the next 11 months will be priceless.

    November 15, 2011 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  14. waiting

    If nothing else, the Republican'ts have entertained us. They've yet to find anyone smart enough but they sure have found some funny ones! Between Cain and Gingrich the only political experience they have is chasing skirts. The only more fitting candidate from that party is Sarah Palin. Now THERE'S a real brainy one – – she's smart enough to stay out of it this time. Now, before you think I'm an Obamanite, just stop. Better the devil we know than the devil we don't. I think.

    November 15, 2011 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  15. Sleepyinsf

    First not knowing China has nukes and now this? You see those odd-looking things stacked behind you , Cain? Those are called books....

    November 15, 2011 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  16. allens

    I just watched cain explain what happened to him when asked about libya. i am 49 years old, and i know a liar when i see it. i don't care if he is a repub or a dem, he is a liar. he lied about those woman and he lied about his knowledge of libya and obamas actions. you cannot vote for someone like him, we have enough of that with politicians already. how can a person of such low morals and sma;ll knowledege base be doing so well in the polls? stop this stupidity and look closely at who we want to run this country.

    November 15, 2011 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  17. DonkeyKONG

    Wow! Where is Harold Stassen now that we really need him?

    November 15, 2011 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  18. Jim

    I can't believe fools like Cain, Bachmann, and Perry are still around. In past elections they would've been long gone by now. Shows you how weak their party really is. This is their best and brightest.

    November 15, 2011 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  19. joco

    Well I have the video where Obama said he had been to 47 of the 52 states. The current presidents legacy will be the "Obamavilles" all over the country where the occupiers protest from. What an utter failure this administration has been.

    November 15, 2011 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  20. John

    The Real Tom Paine, I agree. I tend to not be partisan in general, but the clear and obvious stupidity of any human being supporting an obviously unqualified idiot like Cain or Palin makes a large segment of the Republican electorate look shockingly ignorant. Saying that you support Cain or Palin for their policy stances is like saying you support a 13 year old child for their policy stances. A 13 year old is NOT QUALIFIED to be president, so it doesn't matter WHAT they think about ANYTHING. There has to be a basic intelligence and knowledge check that each voter should put a candidate through before they can be considered for this job, regardless of their stand on the issues, and the fact that a large segment of this country seems to be too unbelievably stupid to do that is a very sad statement about us as a nation.

    November 15, 2011 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  21. Robert - Atlanta

    Cain’s handlers told him to never agree with anything the President has said or done. Period. This snake oil salesman is almost as dumb as Palin – Dumb and Dumber!

    November 15, 2011 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  22. Corporations R. People II

    oh no...ed's going to tell Faux Noise on CNN posters. Man, I thought the GOTPers were self-reliant and tough....now they want to tell the big bad media...and Faux Entertainment.

    I don't condone racism, but really? Going to tell on people to the mouth-breathing idiots at Faux? Go right ahead.

    November 15, 2011 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  23. infonomics

    The history of Herman (or He Man) Cain:

    He cain,
    He groped,
    He gone.

    November 15, 2011 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  24. bwp88

    IIf you had ever listened to 5 minutes of Herman Cain's radio show you would already know that he is not qualified to be President. I can't believe he was ever above single digits in the polls.

    November 15, 2011 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  25. Rmax

    OH NO! Please give the godfather some pizza, he is hungry and tired. It is just telling that his command of international issues are just plain vanilla.

    November 15, 2011 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
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