Sh*t Herman Cain Says: November 17, 2011

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 17 2011 5:18 PM

Sh*t Herman Cain Says: November 17, 2011

Herman Cain is occupying that special space reserved for a candidate who has earned late night punchline status. Everything he says is now combed over for evidence of stupidity. As long as that's happening, I'm going to stop making a big federal case out of Cain's flubs, and just start recording them for history. So, for today, November 17, we have Cain on Cubans.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

A reporter asked about President Barack Obama's decision to scale back some travel restrictions to Cuba, to which Cain reportedly said that was a "gotcha question."
Surrounded by much fanfare, Cain enjoyed a pastry at the restaurant's bakery, asking at one point with his mouth full, "How do you say 'delicious' in Cuban?"
A supporter quickly answered back: "Delicioso." The word is in Spanish, as there is no "Cuban" language.
"Delicioso," Cain repeated, while still chewing. "Delicioso."
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Is there video? Oh, yes.

 

And there was more.

Asked by a reporter if he supported the "wet-foot, dry-foot policy," which allows Cuban immigrants to stay in the United States once they get in, Cain responded: "Wet-foot, dry-foot policy?"
The Miami Herald reports that Cain's handlers then intercepted the questioning and rushed Cain away from the press. When he came back later, Cain didn't answer another question about the topic, instead saying, "Gotta run, gentleman."

That was one event. Meanwhile, in New Hampshire:

“They spend more time focused on when I’m not talking than when other candidates are talking,” he said of the news media.
“Here’s the point that they’re missing,” he continued. “I think before I speak. I know that’s a novel idea. And sometimes I have to stop and gather my thoughts.”
Then he added: “Who knows every detail of every country or every situation on the planet? Nobody!”
“We’ve got plenty of experts,” he said. “We need a leader, not a reader.”
The crowd responded with chants of “Amen!” and “Yes, we Cain.”

I think it's important to note that Cain constantly jokes about how he doesn't need a teleprompter. The joke is double-edged: It's accidentally at Cain's expense, sure, but it also sounds like a wink at Tea Party voters who think President Obama is a moron who reads off prepared text in lieu of knowing things. The "leader/reader" joke isn't as much of a flub as the total unwillingness to know about Florida issues WHEN IN FLORIDA.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.