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. PhillyGuy

    Yeah, except if it were Obama having done the same thing, FOX/FAUX News would run Obama's blundered 24/7; and then jumping to the conclusion of how he can't think on his feet. But Cain does it and, oh, no big deal, just a memory lasp...

    The truth is, Cain didn't have an answer, that he should already know. People can see through BS, and Cain is clearly someone that has been inventing himself as he goes along, instead of being prepared for the most powerful position in te world, POTUS.

    November 15, 2011 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  2. R

    Republican thinking, what Herman Cain reflects here. I would like to mention few points to Mr. Cain. Libya and people of Libya are not your property. Who the opposition was ? Opposition was people who were tired of ruthless dictatorship. Opposition was just public frustration. Apparently, this guy do not know anything about foreign policy. Same as most republicans. He do not have value of life for people belong to other countries.
    Republican party is destroying USA and its own values. They are slowly getting rid of moderates from the party. Look how they behave with comparatively moderates like Colin Powel and McCain.

    November 15, 2011 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  3. Fair is Fair

    "Bye Herman. It was fun while it lasted. Next up: The Newt!"
    --------
    Maybe... but if you think Gingrich will be easily tripped up, you're sorely mistaken.

    November 15, 2011 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  4. chmch

    Elect a lobbyist president. Is this a good idea?

    November 15, 2011 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  5. Rosslaw

    Let's see, not a single American life lost and no one captured, the American side spent less than we spend in one week in Afghanistan, Obama forged an game changing coalition and we deposed a homicidal dictator. Unfortunately from the Republican perspective, there was no opportunity for their friends to steal a bundle (literally) of cash. Can't win them all.

    November 15, 2011 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  6. Tom

    14 more "debates" with this guy and the rest of them? Priceless!

    November 15, 2011 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  7. Greg

    RON PAUL 2012! Cain, Perry, Romney, Gingrich are all done. Not one has a bit of sense about them. They are big government shills

    November 15, 2011 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  8. Vinceshellie

    Cain need to do what he do best make pizza and mess around with other women. Gloria can't be that dumb i hope the question is do she know where he man is tonight...or maybe he can see Libya from his home. Reject Reject damage goods bye bye........Herman Cain

    November 15, 2011 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  9. PhillyGuy

    By the way Mr. Cain, if you said you don't have all of the details/facts to give an intelligent answer about Libya, then how can you be informed enough to say that Obama didn't make the right decision? The only way a person can conclude that President Obama made a wrong decision with Libya, is to actually KNOW what happened in regards to Libya!!!! Some of you GOP are in such huge denial, it's pathetic. As long as it's anti-Obama, you're 100% behind that, right?

    November 15, 2011 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  10. Phil in KC

    I watched the video on HLN this morning. That guy looked like he couldn't put a coherent thought together. It looked to me as though the interviewer had asked him a question that he had not prepped for nor had an answer for. In fact, I don't think he knew what the President's policies were around Libya. That's a major faux pax for someone wishing to be president. This is not his first flub on international issues. It tells me he should not be allowed near the oval office.

    November 15, 2011 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  11. JohnOBX

    "What's the nature of the opposition?"

    Planescape Torment 2: The Nameless One vs. Herman Cain

    November 15, 2011 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  12. Florida Joe

    Yep there goes that Gotcha Media asking those tough questions..........Come on someone ask him what magazines he reads...........no wait better not go there that one was way too tough for the well seasoned Palin

    Turn out the lights Herman........Back to making lousey pizzas

    November 15, 2011 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  13. Ash L. Will

    Honestly the only reason he paused was because he didn't know the paticulars of his own argument, he couldn't slam the Obama administration, or even say what he would do differently because he didn't know. I'm sure after he reads up on the issue he will have a laundry list of things that the current administration did wrong, and that he could have done better, i do credit him this time because usually when a member of the GOP doesn't have an intelligent answer they go straight into character assassination.

    November 15, 2011 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  14. larry

    Is everyone seeing that Ron Paul is the best choice yet? Enough of this crap that he is unelectable. Im sick of dealing with these idiots who think they can be president because they are popular. Let's get someone in there who knows what the hell he is doing!!!

    November 15, 2011 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  15. Jim

    How did this guy get to be CEO of Godfather's Pizza?

    November 15, 2011 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  16. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Maybe if he'd worn his ubiquitous yellow tie....

    November 15, 2011 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  17. J Mann

    I don't expect a candidate to know everything about world affairs, US policy, economics and so on. There is just too much to know to be an expert on every single issue. What I do expect is for a candidate to not be a molester of women, someone who thinks it is fine to stick your hand up a woman's dress without an invitation. This guy is bad news and needs to get out soon, he hasn't got a chance.

    November 15, 2011 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  18. LEK

    I hope that America can clearly see the stark contrast between this "pretender" and President Obama. I’m not sure how the Republican Party benefits from having such a weak candidate speak for them. As a Conservative, I’ve voted for the GOP candidate in the past; never again. America has serious problems and we need a serious person to lead us through these difficult times. I will vote for President Obama.

    November 15, 2011 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  19. mdn

    I wonder how complemented Perry felt for his pause in recalling the Dept. of Energy.

    November 15, 2011 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  20. justin

    Too many things swirling around in his head. That's a good excuse. I got news for this guy. If you can't understand all the major issues going on in and outside the country you do not have the brain power to run it.
    You should be teaching people how to upsell wings with their pizza order. Not running for president.
    This guy is a joke.

    November 15, 2011 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  21. luvcomments

    That's the problem for people who consistently tell lies "just because". Ever notice that later on they can't really remember specifcally what they said about a person, the subject matter? But if a person tells the truth, there's no problem remembering what one said because their words reflect their true belief. This bozo, like most of 'em, has his mind stuffed too full of the wrong things, such as glee about possible big money and power, nothing else.

    November 15, 2011 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  22. Chris Bourne

    Seriously? He's great for comic entertainment since Sarah P. backed out.

    November 15, 2011 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  23. judith

    Cain is such an embarrassingly bad candidate, it's painful to watch him. The Republicans have his rock bottom in their search for a viable candidate. Now it's Newt or Mitt–a washed up scandal ridden muppet and a corporation wearing an expensive suit. I'm sticking with the Prez.

    November 15, 2011 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  24. mdn

    He is definitely qualified to sell pizza.

    November 15, 2011 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  25. Three Ring Circus

    I'd see if this was truly a past history question. It was a current event question. I hope they have already ordered the big tent for the GOP convention. Move over Barnum and Bailey!!

    November 15, 2011 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
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