Cain stumbles over Libya
November 14th, 2011
06:14 PM ET
7 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. bob

    Cain, you give most thinking people pause.

    November 15, 2011 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  2. diridi

    one stumbles the other mumbles., so Obama the Best on Foreign Policy. He killed Bin Laden, Gaddafi, Saddam etc, cut Pakistan aid, brings Iraq troops, ends Iraq war, etc...

    November 15, 2011 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  3. brett

    First off, I think Cain is not Presidential material, and I disagree with the almost everything he has said, but give him a break. I have a bit more respect for a guy who doesn't have a canned answer for everything and actually says he needs more information. Since the GOP seems to make a point of making decisions based on "gut feelings" and not data or information, at least he is open to the idea that information may be needed to make a comment/decision. We should applaud that.

    November 15, 2011 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  4. grady

    for crying out know nothing about foreign policy to begin with, you don't have an answer and when all else fails just disagree with what went down and how it was handled...eventhough our actions in Libya were considered a success.

    November 15, 2011 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  5. Annie, Atlanta

    Honestly, this was hard to watch. He had no idea what he was talking about, so proceeded to tell the interviewer how he would do it better. Painful, just painful. This candidate is a sham. I just wonder if he is a front for the Koch brothers, who wanted one of their own in the White House. Very sad, if this is where politics is heading. But not surprising. The rich guys already own most of our politicians and now write the laws that help them. Putting a puppet in the White House is the natural next step.

    November 15, 2011 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  6. Dave

    Being a contender for president should mean that he's already well aware of Lybia and what's been going on there. It seems like Cain just isn't paying attention to world events. not a good thing for a potential president.

    November 15, 2011 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  7. Sean From Atlanta

    Funny how ALL the GOP candidates all believe they would have done a better job than President Obama, but not one of them will give anybody any specifics on what EXACTLY they would have done better on pertaining to this subject. Its as if they just disagree WITH EVERYTHING THIS PRESIDENT DOES. First they said that helping out the Libyan people is the wrong thing to do, and now that it appears to be a success, now their story is they would have done a better job. Like Iraq I guess.

    November 15, 2011 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  8. mattski

    Ridiculous. And his attempt to spin it was just as sad. I'm embarrassed for him. Throw in China who he didn't know has had nukes for 40+ years, and he's toast.

    November 15, 2011 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  9. Anthony Pinder

    Bring the jam cain's toast

    November 15, 2011 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  10. srb

    That's it! Stick a fork in it Cain.

    November 15, 2011 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  11. detada

    Every republican candidate deserves empathy for their own "Perry Moment" every now and then.

    November 15, 2011 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  12. Paul

    GOP lineup: Simply Top Shelf.

    November 15, 2011 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  13. Dennis B.

    This is just another example of why Herman Cain is utterly unqualified to be president. The Republican presidential field of candidates is pathetic.

    November 15, 2011 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  14. Steve

    This Man never came into this race to win the nomination let alone become President of the United States. He came into the race to boost his personal profile and sell books. He has all of a sudden found himself in a place he never expected to be. His eventual fall was inevitable, it was only a matter of time.

    November 15, 2011 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  15. Palin 2112

    Not as bad as they make it sound. But not Presedential material either.

    November 15, 2011 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  16. HCX

    You can't make this stuff up. Epic fail.

    November 15, 2011 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  17. Texas Doc

    Remember something: This is the very best the GOP has to offer, the very best.

    November 15, 2011 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  18. Belinda R Higgins

    Herman Cain is simply selling his brand...much like that Palin woman. He has no substance, no knowledge of international affairs, no concept of how to run this country. The USA is not a "business" he can manage from a desk. Cain is not a serious GOP candidate for the office of the president. He is simply the GOP needs in order to have more time to find a REAL candidate.

    November 15, 2011 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  19. Robert Raulerson

    In other words, he didn't know what to say. At least he didn't say he could see Russia from his backyard.

    November 15, 2011 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  20. gkingii

    Wonder what Obama would have said if he had been asked a "gotcha" question like that a year before he won.

    November 15, 2011 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  21. FedUp

    At least he answered that he needed more info. Obama would have avoided the question altogether.

    November 15, 2011 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  22. Randy W

    Bye Herman. It was fun while it lasted. Next up: The Newt!

    November 15, 2011 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  23. Frank A NYC

    The bloom has gone off the rose. For all the faults of our nominating system, at the end of the day everyone goes through the same wringer.

    November 15, 2011 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  24. truthserum48

    Where does the TeaPubs, the party of doom & gloom & just say "no", get these blithering ill-equipped candidates anyway? Do they hold a contest to get the worst? It sure seems so. The Prez must be re-elected in 2012.

    November 15, 2011 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  25. pd123

    For goodness sake, give the guy a break, ask him a question about pizza, maybe he could answer that.

    November 15, 2011 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
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