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. highnoon

    Cain the has-Bein... Again proves running a country has nothing to do with running a business, look where the last businessman that thought he could be president put us, we are still dealing with the short-comings 3 years after...

    November 14, 2011 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  2. 40acres

    Libya was kinda a big deal. He didn't remember it? But he sure knew he didn't agree with Obama's actions (whatever those were). Kinda says something don't you think?

    November 14, 2011 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  3. Bob

    Don't let this guy near the launch button.

    November 14, 2011 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  4. Denker

    ...I'll have mine with Canadian ham, please....

    November 14, 2011 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  5. mdn

    No American lives lost, only $1 billon spent and Gaddafi dead and Mr. Cain's not sure weather he supports that??? We spend $10 billion in Afghanistan each month and Mr. Cain is if favor of prolonging that! Hmmmm.

    November 14, 2011 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  6. John McBeth

    The BIGGER story is he favors collective bargaining for federal employees....I have resigned myself to accepting that he is clueless....I think he is just begining to get a handle on what it means to be "Conservative"...are these candidates really the best we have to offer?

    November 14, 2011 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  7. Mama Judy

    Its part of the job..the American People expect our Leader to understand what;s going on around the world....People just watching the news could of given a better answer..... Better step up to the plate if he is serious.... This is a serious job he wants and if answered wrong could affect a whole nation and other nations.....

    November 14, 2011 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  8. rude

    Poor guy, it's too complicated for him. Perhaps if Ghaddafi wore a skirt, Cain could terrorize him.

    November 14, 2011 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  9. It is sad

    Give this man a break. We all know he memory problems before this story broke. It is not easy keeping the right story straight. Lets give him a break and have him concentrate on his "I don't recall these women." stories before asking him to comment on foriegn policy.

    November 14, 2011 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  10. lucerot

    For goodness sakes. And this is the Republican front-runner? No wonder the GOP is washed up.

    November 14, 2011 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  11. MR AMERICA

    Cain probably is a great businessman. He's not presidential in his knowledge or ability to absorb or collect facts. This isn't liberal bias, it's just an observation based on his weak answers in many situations.

    November 14, 2011 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  12. Rob

    Does Cain even know where Libya is? His knowledge of this subject - and most others - is thinner than a coat of paint. So embarrassing. Just proves that making pizzas and shilling for the restaurant industry doesn't prepare you to be the leader of the free world.

    November 14, 2011 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  13. Max

    This guy is so not ready for this job...

    November 14, 2011 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  14. angela

    Unbelievable. What's the next flavor for this month because this one yuck!

    November 14, 2011 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  15. Regis990

    Someone pull this turkey out of the oven...because he is done.

    November 14, 2011 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  16. Doc

    This guy is so clearly in over his head that he can't even see the top of the hole he's in. He keeps trying to explain away the mountain of evidence showing that he isn't even close to being competent enough for the job of President, but his struggling just makes him look more like a clueless liar. He needs to bow out and he needs to do it now. I can't believe his wife and kids aren't telling him that he's making a complete fool out of himself. Either they are mortified or they are dumber than he is.

    November 14, 2011 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  17. Mr. Chip

    The most important thing was whether Pres. Obama supported it or not. If Pres. Obama did then Mr. Cain HAS to disagree (regardless of the merits or success of the Presidents support). So, knowing what President Obama supported he had to disagree. This it the method that the GOP voters choose to make decisions. The GOP is one of the major problems with out country. The Dems are a second, but they are further behind the GOP.

    November 14, 2011 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  18. Thaw

    Anyone with any intelligence at all should have realized that Cain should have never been considered for the position of President – he should stick to selling Pizza !!!!!

    November 14, 2011 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  19. davkat

    .... and this man wants to be President??? How does the saying go?... Be afraid... be very afraid....

    November 14, 2011 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  20. rs

    Republicans- NOT ready for prime time, and certainly NOT the Presidency!

    November 14, 2011 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  21. jma58

    "Good Grief". That is what I say.

    November 14, 2011 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  22. CaptCancun

    Herman sir, this is your next commercial... A throng of hundreds are firing machine guns of various sizes, calibers and type at something with zeal. 12 seconds later we the viewers see what all the fuss is aimed at. If you then emerge from an unscathed M1 Abrams tank and cry out Im still here... Guess what ?

    Most people will realize the point that being bitten by hundreds of mosquitoes does not slow down a rhino, charging forward. You are that rhino, go forth and save America please!

    November 14, 2011 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  23. Amelia

    Cain: Not ready to be President.

    November 14, 2011 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  24. John in Colorado

    Not ready for prime time and if the allegations are true, will never be appropriate for the job.

    November 14, 2011 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  25. Squealy

    Welcome "flavor of the month", Mr. Newt Gingrich. So long, Mr. Cain, you've been a blast!

    November 14, 2011 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
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