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. Papa Murphy

    That silver tongued devil. What a generic answer – it'll work for ANYTHANG you have no clue about. OK, this guy is definitely not serious about even being a citizen....

    November 14, 2011 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  2. Senor Ed

    Hey Herman, Libya is in Africa.

    November 14, 2011 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  3. Kbutler

    Please let the GOP keep fumbling. OBAMA 2012.

    November 14, 2011 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  4. Kman821

    This joke of a presidential candidate is either too stupid to see how truly unqualified he is for the position ... or he's simply not honest enough to admit it.

    November 14, 2011 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  5. Stumble?

    The pizza man knows nothing about foreign policy. What an embarassment.

    November 14, 2011 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  6. Seattle Sue

    Cain doesn't seem to know Mitt about anything.

    November 14, 2011 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  7. carla

    Bye Herman. Pause and think about that one.

    November 14, 2011 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  8. Sam Houston

    All of the bloopers that the candidates are making only show more clearly what Jeremiah 10:23 says. Over thousands of years of human history there has not been any individual or human government that has solved the serious problems facing humanity.

    November 14, 2011 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  9. works4me

    He didn't pause...he was backpedaling because he hasn't a clue.

    November 14, 2011 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  10. max

    at least its a semi-honest answer. these guys have no idea what the real president has in his briefings on a situation like libya. he wouldnt know assets available, intelligence reports or any number of things. i would like to see more thoughtful answers from candidates before they automatically assume a sitting president is wrong.

    its not just obama. had the same issue with folks criticizing bush without knowing all the background details.

    November 14, 2011 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  11. Libragirl

    Yeah, Cain, you get back to us on that... I would like to see a Obama vs Cain debate... Get your popcorn and pizza ready.

    November 14, 2011 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  12. allens

    didn't he get nansty to a reporter recently, about him not being a fool and studying the issues? he is such a fool. reminds me of craig huey

    November 14, 2011 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  13. Shannon

    I keep asking, is this group of fools really the best the right has to offer.

    November 14, 2011 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  14. WatchOne

    Another example that this guy is not ready to lead our Country! I do not and cannot see him as the Commander-in-Chief. He is way out of his league. President Obama is heads and shoulders above Cain. Cain is just not Presidential material, plain and simple… As president he will need to be ale to deal with more than one issue and be able to keep them straight in his head. He can’t even do that while on the campaign trail.

    November 14, 2011 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  15. Emperor Vadik, CA

    Maybe he should have called Princess Nancy, she would have explained to him what we did in Libya....

    November 14, 2011 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  16. cacique

    Where are those experts when you need them?

    Even when Mr. cain has had a lot on his plate to ponder later, he is still showing a lack of general knowledge all presidential candidates should have treasured by now. This recent example of his lack of info goes hand in hand with Mr. Perry's latest Oops moment.

    November 14, 2011 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  17. teepee

    I think it was probably his bottom lip he stumbled over.

    November 14, 2011 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  18. klarg

    Uzbeki-beki-beki-stan-stan
    (on Libya) Let's see, I've got to go back, see," (I've) got all this stuff twirling around in my head.
    He's on a foreign policy roll!

    November 14, 2011 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  19. Chaz

    Do I agree with what Cain said? It's not a simple yes/no because there are different pieces and I would've gone about assessing the situation differently. I don't know that they were or were not assessed. I do not agree with the way he handled it for the following reasons – um, no, that's a different one. 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. 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.

    November 14, 2011 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  20. nebulizer

    Does this guy have a clue about what's going on outside the pizza business?

    November 14, 2011 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  21. NotAmused

    Seriously? I know children who have a better grasp of the situation than Cain does. Libya has been in the news for months and he has had every opportunity to do the research, so his "I need more information" dodge is utter bovine byproduct!

    November 14, 2011 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  22. John

    Herman Cain know nothing about Foreign Policy and petty much nothing else. He now Pizza and that It.

    November 14, 2011 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  23. Sabi

    Another one bites the dust.

    November 14, 2011 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  24. Jersey3038

    Really? The only canidate who makes good sense and really respects the lives of our soldiers is Ron Paul. The repubs are going to nominate Romney And lose to Obama. The repubs are so corrupt that they want no part of R P. Actually the lobbyist who control the party want no part of R P. Oh yeah both parties are equally corrupt.

    November 14, 2011 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  25. cacique

    Unless Mr. Cain is going out of his way not to praise President Obama's way of handling the Libya affair, choosing to stumble on such a recent international not to say something positive shows a truly R-candidate.

    November 14, 2011 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
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