(CNN) – Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is among those Herman Cain would like to see in his administration if he wins the White House. Too bad Kissinger declined the proposal.
"Dr. Kissinger turned down my offer to be secretary of state," Cain told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, with a smile. "He said he's perfectly happy doing what he's doing."
The two met for breakfast a few weeks ago, and in a separate portion of the interview Cain drew on their conversation to answer a question about his policy toward Iran.
But he said Kissinger, 88, who served in the administrations of former presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, is just one of the people he would entertain as potential Cain White House appointees.
He listed former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, former Reagan Pentagon spokeswoman KT McFarland, former head of the Strategic Air Command John Chain and Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina as those he admires. He also pointed to Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his prototype.
"My administration will have a majority of business people as well as some seasoned officeholders who are not afraid to challenge the status quo," Cain said.
"He [Ryan] put something on the table to solve the problem, knowing it was going to be controversial," he said referencing Ryan's budget proposal which would reform Medicare. "That's what I like, that's what I do."
Cain's comments came during the same interview that produced controversial responses from the GOP candidate over Libya and collective bargaining.
When asked at an event in Iowa later Tuesday if he had asked Kissinger about being Secretary of State, Cain said, "No I did not."
"Dr. Kissinger has retired and I respect that," Cain continued. "I just apprecate the fact that he was kind enough to spend some time and give me his perspective on the Middle East and a lot of these other countries around the world. So he was like a wise sage, you know, giving me a lot of perspectives about how to go about dealing with these issues. Which is, that's something that I've talked about."
When asked if he was teasing, he said he was.
"Yes I was teasing. I was not serious about asking him because I know he's retired, but I was serious about seeking his counsel. And he was nice enough to say that I could seek his counsel some more in the future, which I treasure dearly."