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. Scott

    Maybe he doesn't know where Libya is or what happened there.

    November 14, 2011 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  2. Voter

    You mean he had to stop and think? Oh my goodness! Who would do such a thing?

    November 14, 2011 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  3. Indy

    Cain is so far out of his league it is no suprise he stumbles and lies, and the truth will soon catch up to his lies and finally it will be all over for Herm

    November 14, 2011 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  4. Tom

    Finally an honest answer. All the other candidates said they would have done it differently. Finally, one of them actually says, "I need to see all the facts first"

    November 14, 2011 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    Oh my, he didn't answer the question that the elite media wanted in 30 or less and now he's not qualified.

    November 14, 2011 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  6. c'mon america

    Is this story true ? Is it possible for someone running for president to have so little knowledge of the world around him ? Maybe it's to many briefings , afterall if you havn't noticed the world evolving around you it must be overwhelming to try and learn current events of the last 50 years . Who are his supporters ? Do they also not know things ? C'mon america , this is rediculous !

    November 14, 2011 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  7. jp

    You're done, Mr. Cain. Next!

    November 14, 2011 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  8. John

    Not presidential material at all.

    November 14, 2011 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  9. K3Citizen

    I hope you enjoyed your ride while it lasted, Herman.

    November 15, 2011 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  10. Dave

    And some people want to let THIS GUY run the country? Scary.

    November 15, 2011 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  11. Rick

    You know, there's no way this guy's qualified to be president, but I've been at those editorial board meetings and it's perfectly reasonable for someone to pause for 8 seconds to gather his thoughts before answering. Sheesh.

    November 15, 2011 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  12. Patrick

    I am not sure how anyone can support a candidate like Cain, who clearly crumbles under pressure. He cannot handle tough questions nor can he handle being confronted when he is not entirely in control. And then he blames the media? Sorry but someone with such an inadequate personality has no business being in charge of anything, let alone the greatest nation on earth.

    November 15, 2011 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  13. skytag

    I respect his response. He wasn't that well informed, but he didn't try to bluff his way through the question or lapse into a lot of anti-Obama rhetoric. Sounded like an honest answer to me.

    November 15, 2011 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  14. Kareny

    It's obvious that Cain is not ready to be president. This isn't the first time he's stumbled on foreign policy. Again, the President of this country is not just president on domestic issues.

    November 15, 2011 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  15. Sam

    3am phone call comes in, as president, do you take it?... 8 seconds later, and World War 4 starts...

    November 15, 2011 01:56 am at 1:56 am |
  16. ahetch

    He would have required all of the facts...but he was sure that he didn't agree with president Obama's decision It was painful to watch..

    November 15, 2011 02:05 am at 2:05 am |
  17. Tristan

    Yeah, he's done.

    November 15, 2011 03:16 am at 3:16 am |
  18. Geo

    Isn't it amazing these Republican candidates. They want to be President but are clueless of the most basic aspects of foreign policy. You would think they would spend some time reading up on the world so they would appear savy and well informed instead of looking foolish in front of the camera.

    November 15, 2011 03:26 am at 3:26 am |
  19. farron

    he might as well of said i dont agree with him because hes a democrat

    November 15, 2011 03:27 am at 3:27 am |
  20. John Smith

    Most teabaggers could not even point Libya on a map, so I am really not surprised.

    November 15, 2011 03:30 am at 3:30 am |
  21. Mike

    Is it news that this clown has no clue about the world around him? If that phone rings at 3am the only thing he can say is 9-9-9.

    November 15, 2011 05:26 am at 5:26 am |
  22. Audience

    Cain is not able to stay on top of world events. He is the weakest link when it comes to foreign policy

    November 15, 2011 05:44 am at 5:44 am |
  23. Veritas

    Clearly unqualified for the job

    November 15, 2011 06:11 am at 6:11 am |
  24. kafoste

    Which goes to show you cant always run the country like a business Mr Cain...sometimes you dont have the opportunity to go back and look to see what everyone else put as their answer before you roll the dice...the funny little one liners that sound great in the beginning....only get you so far...sign up ahead...get off this exit

    November 15, 2011 06:12 am at 6:12 am |
  25. kit8

    Another brilliant Republican candidate. Does he even know where Libya is? Perhaps he can see Libya from his kitchen window.

    November 15, 2011 06:18 am at 6:18 am |
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