Watch Herman Cain Get Stumped on Medicare

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 7 2011 1:39 PM

Watch Herman Cain Get Stumped on Medicare

When he spoke to the AFP Defending the Dream Summit on Friday, Herman Cain opened up with a favorite zinger. He looked at a teleprompter at one side of the podium, then a teleprompter on the other side.

"Whose teleprompters are these?" he asked. "These are not my teleprompters!"

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Rim shot! You probably get the joke, but I'll explain it: Barack Obama, that knucklehead, needs teleprompters to give the simplest speeches. Herman Cain doesn't. Except when he does. One day after the AFP speech, Cain engaged Newt Gingrich at the Texas Tea Party Patriots PAC's "Lincoln-Douglas-style" debate. At multiple junctures, he punted to Cain. At this moment, in particular, he looked lost.

Why'd he freeze? After Gingrich masticates over the question for a while, Cain actually finds the wherewithal to answer it. Sort of. "In the private sector, for decades now," he says, "they have been making the change from defined benefit plans to defined contributions plans." But he doesn't come off as conversant on Medicare. The weekend chatter on the right hasn't been kind to Cain; the media focused on how he blew off scandal questions, but the multiple punts on tough policy questions hurt him more.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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