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. Al from NJ

    It must have been that gotcha media we heard so much about last time around...

    November 14, 2011 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  2. Leigh

    It's not as if Libya hasn't been a pretty major story in the news over the past several months, especially in the past weeks. Good grief, indeed. And Cain is running for president???

    November 14, 2011 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  3. sewy

    put a fork in him, he's done

    November 14, 2011 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  4. FRANK - LAS VEGAS

    And Cain joins Perry at the bottom of the toast pile.

    November 14, 2011 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  5. Blue19

    It's becoming clearer that Cain doesn't possess any in depth knowledge of policies, either foreign or domestic. Being in charge of a national company that makes pizzas does not mean Cain is ready to lead a nation.

    November 14, 2011 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  6. Orobokibo

    This man is completely out of touch. He is not fit to be our president at all.

    November 14, 2011 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  7. once upon a horse

    Herman Cain and some other GOP contenders are so into going against EVERYTHING that President Obama has done that at times they can't really say WHY they are against it. And this seems to be one of those moments. The GOP mantra has been not to give Obama any credit or praise on anything, make him look like the bad guy on everything, and say how you would do it different. And of course facts don't matter at all. Just the other day Cain blasted Obama on ending a NASA program that President Bush had called to end himself. Romney says Iran will not have a nuc weapon if he were president and would attack not saying where he would find the troops nor money to do such a thing. Newt flip/flopped on his Libya support once the president did do what Newt wanted in the first place. This all plays well with the rabid right wing Obama-hating base who care not about truths but will not play well overall in a general election.

    November 14, 2011 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  8. Chris

    Still just a pizza guy. Not presidential material

    November 14, 2011 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  9. Kenneth the VI of Minneapolis

    First there was $arah, then came Scott Brown, then Rubio, then Trump, then Perry, then Cain, then Newt....poor ol' Mitt can't get more that 25% ..... who will be next?

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

    Poor guy, he forgot his talking points! What a joke of a "candidate."

    November 14, 2011 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  11. ward

    now let's make fun of Mr. Cain for one stumble.

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

    Goodbye Herb. You were entertaining for a while but your 15 minutes just ended.

    November 14, 2011 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  13. Carl Harvey

    Poor Cain. He has shown that at the end of the day, he is just another black man, with all the faults most of them seem to have

    November 14, 2011 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  14. Rob in MO

    The fact that some repubs support this guy is testimony to the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the republican party.

    November 14, 2011 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  15. kachibachi

    Has he even ever left the US to go on vacation? All politicians need to spend some time plying their trades abroad.

    November 14, 2011 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  16. us1776

    "(I've) got all this stuff twirling around in my head."

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

    This was just a funny and pathetic as Perry's brain-meltdown.

    These GOP candidates don't even know where half of these countries are in the world. Or anything about their history and relationship with the U.S. And to think these people want to have access to the "football". Brrrrrr....

    .

    November 14, 2011 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  17. Rudy Gonzales

    After watching the video of Cain on Libya, Cain Had a "Perry" moment!

    November 14, 2011 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  18. Newmoon2

    Doomed! He's going... going... GONE!

    November 14, 2011 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  19. justin

    Rebecca - you are the one who is stumbling === Heman is saying the Opposition in the long run could be worse than Gadafi - but apparently you have no clue about that since you are a totol ingnorant as most so called journalists in the USA!!

    November 14, 2011 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  20. justin

    Former Godfathers pizza ceo Hermain Cain. Thats all i have to say about Cains qualifications. sarcasm.

    November 14, 2011 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  21. soondubu

    why this guy would ever be considered a front runner and a favorite of the teaparty is beyond me.
    he supports the patriot act as 90% correct. he supports the TARP as correct in intent. he favors a national sales tax. he flip flops on the federal reserve issue. he thinks abortion is a personal decision but want to ban it, and let the woman choose. he wants to take military action against iran just in case.

    seriously?

    tea party?

    and he will defer to expert opinion in matters that he doesn't know much about, which is a lot.

    like obama doesn't rely on the same experts.

    November 14, 2011 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  22. Talia C.

    Are GOP candidates showing signs of early dementia or is it just plain ignorance !!???

    November 14, 2011 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  23. Four and The Door

    I see nothing wrong with Cain's answer here. He is exactly correct in saying that he would need more information. As President you would absolutely have more information to develop a strategy in this kind of a conflict. In fact, I wish more candidates would have the honesty to say just that, " I would need more information. "

    November 14, 2011 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  24. Rich

    So much for cutting education huh Herm...you might want to attend night school...

    November 14, 2011 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  25. mikey

    We certainly need that Cain decisiveness in the White House.

    November 14, 2011 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
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