Dubuque, Iowa (CNN) - Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain on Tuesday reiterated comments made a day earlier that he supports collective bargaining rights for public employees, which could put him at odds with some of his rivals and hurt him among some conservatives.
During an editorial board meeting Monday with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in Wisconsin, Cain said that he supported workers' right for collective bargaining. One day later following a campaign event in Dubuque, Iowa, he declared, "Let's clarify what I said. I am against collective hijacking."
The issue of collective bargaining is one that could pit the former businessman against his rivals in the race for the 2012 Republican nomination for president.
Support for the rights of workers to organize would directly conflict with the policies of Republican Govs. John Kasich of Ohio and Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who sought to limit the collective bargaining rights of state workers in an effort to reduce budget deficits in both states.
"Collective bargaining, they have the right but I don't support collective hijacking, that was the point," Cain argued.
He defines "collective hijacking" as an organization putting "so many demands on a state that it is going to force it to go bankrupt." When that happens, "they've gone too far," Cain said.
But the candidate who has recently taken a hit in polls said he supports collective bargaining "done the right way."
"Make sure you get this point in," he said. "It should not be mandatory. That is one of the problems that some states have. It should not be mandatory and they have a right to do so."
Cain declined to answer whether he supported efforts to restrict collective bargaining rights in Ohio, where voters last week rejected a law affecting public workers that had been passed by the Republican-controlled legislature and signed by Kasich.
But during the meeting in Wisconsin on Monday he said, "I think in that particular case, maybe they tried to get too much and as a result it failed…in this case, they may have tried to get too much in one bill."
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