Herman Cain: Sure, I can see myself releasing everyone at Gitmo in exchange for one U.S. POW; Update: I misspoke, says Cain

posted at 7:10 pm on October 18, 2011 by Allahpundit

Via Greg Hengler and Guy Benson, if this answer doesn’t destroy him, nothing will. I get the sense watching it that he’s so unsure of how to answer this exceedingly easy question that he defaults to Netanyahu’s position on the assumption that prisoner swaps must always be the wise, statesmanlike, conservative thing to do. The alternative, that he knows what he’s talking about yet is still sincerely inclined to release the guy who planned 9/11 plus dozens upon dozens of other jihadi fanatics in exchange for one G.I., is even worse. I’d bet 95 percent of people asked on the street could answer this correctly, yet somehow our frontrunner not only blows it but feels obliged to hedge weakly by noting that he’d need all the facts to make a proper decision. Here’s a fact: Khaled Sheikh Mohammed blew up the World Trade Center. What other facts do you need?

And to think, I thought this would be his worst foreign-policy answer of the week:

Halfway through the question about the electric fence, Cain butted in with “it was a joke!”

“Let me first say it was a joke, and some people don’t think that it was a good joke, and it’s probably not a joke that you’re supposed to make if you’re a presidential candidate,” Cain continued. “I apologize if it offended anyone. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa.”

Only, it might not be a joke, he later said, before finally saying he just doesn’t want to offend anyone.

“I don’t like to offend anyone…however, I don’t apologize for using a combination of a fence. And it might be electrified — I’m not walking away from that,” Cain backtracked. “I just don’t want to offend anybody. It was a joke to the extent in the context of the views of that speech, but in terms of what we need to do, I fully intend to do so because I’m more sensitive to our citizens being hurt.”

Ace flags a few other giant gaps in Cain’s foreign-policy knowledge and asks, “Has ‘homework’ and ‘thinking things through, in advance’ become ‘un-conservative’ over the past year?” When I hear him give answers like the one he gives below about Gitmo, it makes me wonder why he wants to be president in the first place. If you’re this disengaged from one of the executive’s core duties, why would you want those duties at all? It’d be like me trying to get hired at an accounting firm because I think I can “make a difference” even though I know zip zero zilch about accounting. Normally I hate pop-quiz foreign policy questions that candidates get like “Who’s the prime minister of Nigeria?”, but after all these gaffes I’m thinking the media’s well within its rights at this point to test Cain on basic stuff. And I don’t mean who the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan is. I mean stuff like, “Is Iran a Sunni or Shiite country, and why does that matter?” Anyone who’s read the news intermittently over the past 10 years should be able to offer a basic answer to that one. I’d be curious to hear Cain’s.

This isn’t his only new problem, either. A study by the Tax Policy Center that’s out tonight claims his 9-9-9 plan would raise taxes on 84 percent of U.S. households. If you don’t trust their analysis, try Ramesh Ponnuru’s skeptical take on Cain’s plan in Bloomberg today or Grover Norquist’s misgivings about it when talking to ABC yesterday. In fact, Stephen Moore, who helped Cain devise the plan, has already started to walk back part of it, saying that the sales tax aspect should be dropped in favor of a nine-percent payroll tax instead. Exit question: Have we seen Cain’s high-water mark now come and go?

Update: I didn’t see it happen live, but Guy Benson tells me that Cain was interviewed again by Blitzer shortly after the debate and said he “misspoke” in his Gitmo answer. We’ll have to wait for the clip tomorrow for his full response.

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Seriously, how hard is it to answer, “Our nation has always had a policy of refusing to negotiate with terrorists, and I support that.”

There Goes The Neighborhood on October 19, 2011 at 2:00 AM

I’m not picking on you, not even saying you’re wrong in your comments.

Jimmy – Negotiated with the Iranians*. . . among others.
Reagan – Negotiated with the Contras* . . . among others.
Bush SR – Negotiated with the Iraqis* . . . among others.
Clinton – Negotiated with the PLO*, Norks*. . . among others.
Bush Jr. – Negotiated with Fatah*, Taliban*, Iraqi* insurgents. . . among others
Obama – list is too long.

The statement “The U.S. does not negotiate with terrorists” is political rhetoric, not much more.

We negotiated with the Barbary pirates, for Pete’s sake.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t “advocate” negotiating with terrorists, or terrorist regimes, or groups on the terror groups lists; but it happens, sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly, and the politician who states “The U.S. does not negotiate with terrorists” is telling a political lie. Yes, it’s the official policy, but that’s just it; it’s only the official policy.

Would I love it if every one of the above negotiations had ended with the coordinates of the meetings being plugged into a JDAM, you betcha, but the reality is that it happens, has happened, and will undoubtedly happen again, no matter who becomes President.

Except maybe Bachmann, I’m pretty certain that any terror group that looks her way would consider her crazy, and be afraid to negotiate with her. . . which is a point for Bachmann in my book.

* – Each of the groups listed was also designated as “terrorists”, “terrorist regimes”, “terror groups”, or “terrorist dictators” by their corresponding American President prior to negotiations. In Clinton’s case the negotiations actually involved negotiating to remove the “terrorist” label from the Norks.

Jason Coleman on October 19, 2011 at 2:20 AM

How could considering even for a second that it would be okay to release every single terrorist at Gitmo for one solider reasonable?

You can’t spin this – it’s a bad answer for any candidate to give.

Indeed. And I went out of my way to emphasize that he hedged his answer by saying he’d need all the facts to make a final judgment. Except that you don’t need “all the facts.” There are no facts that would make this trade anything less than insane. And it’s embarrassing that there are Cain supporters here so deep in the tank that they’d actually entertain the idea simply to protect their guy.

Allahpundit on October 18, 2011 at 7:38 PM

This was the problem I always had with all the business about “Palin cultists.” EVERY serious candidate has at least a few followers like this. Even MIlqueToasT Romney.

But I agree on the main point. It’s ridiculous to spin this as anything but a bad answer. The only halfway decent argument is that Cain would almost certainly not do what he just said he would consider.

There Goes The Neighborhood on October 19, 2011 at 2:32 AM

Anybody but Romney(Ron Paul doesn’t count).

Conservative Gunman on October 18, 2011 at 7:43 PM

I won’t vote for Romney. I’d rather write in Sarah Palin, than vote for Romney. It won’t really matter for me anyway; I live in California. Reagan himself could come back from the grave and run, and he’d still lose in California.

mauipundit on October 18, 2011 at 7:48 PM

Basically. Even with this horrible answer and other weaknesses in foreign policy, Cain, or Perry, or Gingrich, or Santorum, or even Bachmann, is still better than Romney.

And Ron Paul still doesn’t count.

There Goes The Neighborhood on October 19, 2011 at 2:43 AM

Draft Condy?

kittysaidwoof on October 19, 2011 at 2:44 AM

slo-mo train cain wreck in progress.

greeneyedconservative on October 19, 2011 at 2:47 AM

And the rest aren’t? All of them are career politicians. BS is their entire job description.

CrankyTRex on October 19, 2011 at 2:20 AM

So Cain’s know-nothing slick BSing is acceptable because he isn’t a “career politician”. I suppose you like Mitt’s BS because he too isn’t a “career politician”, right? I rather have a competent “career politicians” with a record than a boob like Cain whose record is a string of unforced errors and embarrassing gaffes — oh, and lackluster pizza sales.

Cain is a moron. Keep repeating that to yourself until it sinks in and we can get back to the business of nominating an adult.

Punchenko on October 19, 2011 at 3:16 AM

I’m not picking on you, not even saying you’re wrong in your comments.

Jimmy – Negotiated with the Iranians*. . . among others.
Reagan – Negotiated with the Contras* . . . among others.
Bush SR – Negotiated with the Iraqis* . . . among others.
Clinton – Negotiated with the PLO*, Norks*. . . among others.
Bush Jr. – Negotiated with Fatah*, Taliban*, Iraqi* insurgents. . . among others
Obama – list is too long.

The statement “The U.S. does not negotiate with terrorists” is political rhetoric, not much more.

We negotiated with the Barbary pirates, for Pete’s sake.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t “advocate” negotiating with terrorists, or terrorist regimes, or groups on the terror groups lists; but it happens, sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly, and the politician who states “The U.S. does not negotiate with terrorists” is telling a political lie. Yes, it’s the official policy, but that’s just it; it’s only the official policy.

Would I love it if every one of the above negotiations had ended with the coordinates of the meetings being plugged into a JDAM, you betcha, but the reality is that it happens, has happened, and will undoubtedly happen again, no matter who becomes President.

Except maybe Bachmann, I’m pretty certain that any terror group that looks her way would consider her crazy, and be afraid to negotiate with her. . . which is a point for Bachmann in my book.

* – Each of the groups listed was also designated as “terrorists”, “terrorist regimes”, “terror groups”, or “terrorist dictators” by their corresponding American President prior to negotiations. In Clinton’s case the negotiations actually involved negotiating to remove the “terrorist” label from the Norks.

Jason Coleman on October 19, 2011 at 2:20 AM

You are working way too hard in trying to rehabilitate Cain and his obvious ignorance and irresponsibility when it would come to defending this nation and understanding the issues as POTUS.

1.) You don’t trade captured Al-Qaeda command/support members for one GI when many more died in capturing/killing them.

2.) Cain doesn’t know what he is talking about half the time, to suggest Cain is informed and up to speed is ridiculous.

3.) Cain will never become POTUS. The national security establishment — which is vast and has a powerful voice — will never let a fool make such decisions as Cain obviously would per his own statements.

Punchenko on October 19, 2011 at 3:27 AM

Who’s your candidate Punchy?

Jason Coleman on October 19, 2011 at 3:42 AM

http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2011/10/18/queens-family-hopes-son-ilan-grapel-will-be-released-from-egypt/

I’ll just toss this one out there.

1 American for 80 Egyptians? Yes or No?

Jason Coleman on October 19, 2011 at 4:19 AM

Draft Condy?

kittysaidwoof on October 19, 2011 at 2:44 AM

Once you go black, you can’t go back.

borntoraisehogs on October 19, 2011 at 4:47 AM

The statement “The U.S. does not negotiate with terrorists” is political rhetoric, not much more.

Jason Coleman on October 19, 2011 at 2:20 AM

Herman Cain said last night that he won’t negotiate with terrorists.

Rhetoric?

Can you name one US President that released a terrorist in any kind of a deal with a terror group?

Wolf Blitzer asked Herman Cain if he could see himself releasing the GITMO prisoners in a deal with AL QUAIDA. Herman Cain … he didn’t say there might be the slightest remote chance of doing it – he jumped right out there and said sure he could see himself doing that.

That is fact bro and no amount of spinning gets you away from the fact that is man is a political liability and will self-destruct.

And, it’s going to be a terrible day for the Cainlusionals when it happens and they realize that, for all their efforts and “YES WE CAN!” for Herman Cain have bought them a Mitt Romney nominee.

And … you’d better SUPPORT Mitt Romney – since you will have bought him that nomination with your fantastic belief that a man with no money, no organization, no knowledge of foreign affairs, no experience could have possibly won this thing.

HondaV65 on October 19, 2011 at 4:47 AM

I’ll just toss this one out there.

1 American for 80 Egyptians? Yes or No?

Jason Coleman on October 19, 2011 at 4:19 A

No.

Your defense of the defenseless on this issue is pretty pathetic – as has been your moral relativity et al.

There has been nothing sacred to you … you’ve been willing to drag Ronald Reagan into the mud to save your deeply flawed candidate – even though Ronald Reagan never released a terrorist as Herman Cain said he could do.

That’s a fact bro.

Why can’t you just admit that Herman Cain was wrong?

Is it that hard?

HondaV65 on October 19, 2011 at 4:50 AM

Small nit:

Update: I didn’t see it happen live, but Guy Benson tells me that Cain was interviewed again by Blitzer shortly after the debate and said he “misspoke” in his Gitmo answer. We’ll have to wait for the clip tomorrow for his full response.

Guy Benson did not actually say Cain was re-interviewed by Wolf; see meaning of tweet:

Cain now on CNN: Clarifies (answer to Blitzer) after they replay the full clip: “I misspoke.” Disavows his previous answer.

Cain was on post-debate live feed in press area, but not talking to Wolf, when he said he “misspoke”.

He also said “mea culpa” during at this time.

fred5678 on October 19, 2011 at 4:52 AM

Ooof is right. I love the Hermanator, but he’s seriously got to sharpen up on foreign policy whether he likes it or not. FP may not be first on America’s list of things that need fixing, but to many of us that do pay close attention to world affairs (as I live overseas) and what living life outside the US border is like (not as a tourist), it is painful to hear his recent clumsy remarks. No, it’s not a deal breaker to ever have my support, but this was an silly own goal. Come on. You at least publicly say the US doesn’t negotiate with terrorists and Israel has it’s own reasons for the trade whether we agree with it or not.

Draft Condy?

kittysaidwoof on October 19, 2011 at 2:44 AM

No way, not after reading how John Bolton talked about her in his book “Surrender is not an option” i.e. loyal, but very weak on decision making.

Renwaa on October 19, 2011 at 5:31 AM

So does anyone want to address why overall, we really don’t have a “hit it out of the ballpark” kinda candidate? I love a lot about Cain – but clearly he has been stumbling on a number of issues, particularly foreign policy.

Paul has beliefs on some issues that will make it impossible for him to ever be elected, Santorum is a whiney loser who doesn’t realize it’s time to leave the stage, Bachmann is a fruitcake, Perry seems to continue to have trouble going the long stretch in the public eye (at least in these venues). Somethinng about Romney gives me the willies, an seems unappealing to many – and Gingrich, though tremendously knowledgeable and capable, has over and over committed such ugly personal acts…. Don’t know that he could ever overcome that.

I well realize we never get perfect. But why does each candidate seem to have some flaws that are so large?

pbundy on October 19, 2011 at 6:53 AM

I mean who could be stupid enough to make a trade like that?

Oh yea, Israel

still having trouble swallowing that one

if they don’t have the nerve to pull the lever (gallows), call me

I’ll work overtime

Sonosam on October 19, 2011 at 7:22 AM

“it was a joke!”

And thank you for that. So many people here seemed to think he was serious about running for President.

Jaibones on October 19, 2011 at 7:56 AM

“3.) Cain will never become POTUS. The national security establishment — which is vast and has a powerful voice — will never let a fool make such decisions as Cain obviously would per his own statements.”

This is plainly false given the actions of our current president. I will admit that the “security establishment” has steered Obama right (as in correct) a time or two (e.g. Bin Laden, Somali pirates). However, how do you explain the last two overseas contingency operations in Libya and now…where…Uganda I think.

I think Cain’s answer was intended to show support for Israel and was ill-considered. I’m glad he walked it back but it was a BAD (and wrong) answer. I am a tentative supporter of Cain. He better pick up his foreign policy game or AP is right that he is finished.

drocity on October 19, 2011 at 7:57 AM

Funny man. It’s a joke is not a good fall back for someone running for president. Maybe that’s why he’s not the ceo of a large corp anymore. Is he setting himself up for a late night TV show?

Kissmygrits on October 19, 2011 at 8:46 AM

It’s not about negotiating with them; it’s about releasing 1,000 terrorists in exchange for 1 soldier. That’s not negotiation; it’s surrender.

flataffect on October 19, 2011 at 8:49 AM

This is plainly false given the actions of our current president.

drocity on October 19, 2011 at 7:57 AM

So true. The real lesson of the Obama disaster is that no one is in charge. If it was the lefty media, explain why we mostly have GOP Presidents. Clearly they have enormous and growing power, but people still get to vote their own minds.

No, clearly there is no one in charge, and we get the government we deserve. So be vigilant and expose the vermin everywhere you see them — in every school and every newspaper, where they do their greatest damage. Nothing we can do about television, unfortunately.

Jaibones on October 19, 2011 at 9:14 AM

I like and respect Herman Cain. I think he would likely make a great president some day. I just don’t think he is ready right now. I don’t think he is ready for a campaign against Obama with the media aimed at destroying him. I don’t think he has the knowledge base on the issues he needs to be able to comment on, or the discipline to stay on message and not make campaign killing gaffes.

As being ready to be president, I’m not convinced he is ready for that. Of course, when compared against Obama he is more than ready. but when compared against some other possible candidates running in the GOP primary, I don’t believe he is ready.

But the biggest issue to me is that I don’t think he has the experience to run a successful national campaign in the general election.

Monkeytoe on October 19, 2011 at 9:39 AM

So Cain’s know-nothing slick BSing is acceptable because he isn’t a “career politician”. I suppose you like Mitt’s BS because he too isn’t a “career politician”, right? I rather have a competent “career politicians” with a record than a boob like Cain whose record is a string of unforced errors and embarrassing gaffes — oh, and lackluster pizza sales.

Cain is a moron. Keep repeating that to yourself until it sinks in and we can get back to the business of nominating an adult.

Punchenko on October 19, 2011 at 3:16 AM

Mitt Romney is absolutely a career politician.

And every single of one of them up there has had gaffes and unforced errors. So who am I supposed to pick again? The guy that thinks I’m heartless? The guy that is proud of helping to ruin MA with RomneyCare? The woman who thinks the HPV vaccine makes you retarded?

CrankyTRex on October 19, 2011 at 10:21 AM

One term as governor doesn’t make him a career politician, Cranky. He and Cain are both businessmen.

Perry is a career politician, having never worked in the private sector.

The people of MA still overwhelmingly support their healthcare law.

The people of Texas seem to support their Dream Act.

Gingrich has been a flip-flopper on the individual mandate, along with the Heritage Foundation.

Cain is making rookie mistakes and his 9-9-9 plan is starting to look harder to sell.

Ron Paul is great on cutting spending, but seems to want to disarm unilaterally.

But these glib dismissals and the Anybody-but-Romney attitude aren’t going to get rid of Obama. The goal of the debates seems to be to unseat the frontrunner. How is that good for the party or the nation?

flataffect on October 19, 2011 at 10:48 AM

Honda,

1. I’ve made zero moral arguments.

2. Aa for Reagan. I have no problem with what he did with regard to they contras.

Sacred is a personal argument, not a political one. Machiavelli was pretty spot on with his description of where injecting personal arguments get you in the political sphere.

All modern presidents have negotiated with entities they also term terrorist.

If you’d like to have a discussing about morality, you could start by disavowing all of your previous ad hominem attacks. Then perhaps we could pick a common moral framework within which to work.

I can pretty much guarantee that our personal moral frames are quite different. That isn’t a bad thing. Just reality

Jason Coleman on October 19, 2011 at 11:07 AM

This answer has to make anyone supporting Herman Cain cringe.

OUCH !!!

Cain may be a great businessman and economist (since he was chairman of a Federal Reserve branch), but this answer will sink him.

No President (of either party) would stoop to releasing over 100 known terrorists to gain the release of one American POW. Doesn’t Cain know that the President is the Commander in Chief of the US Armed Forces, and also of the CIA, which can mount commando operations to attempt to rescue American hostages or POWs?

Even the weak-kneed Jimmy Carter tried to mount a commando raid to free the 55 diplomat-hostages in Iran in 1980 (which failed because Carter didn’t commit enough resources), and Barack Hussein Obama approved a Navy-sniper operation to rescue an American ship captain taken hostage by pirates off the coast of Somalia in 2009.

In answer to that question, Cain should have simply said that “I would use the resources available to the President to rescue the prisoner”. Period.

Any President faced with American military personnel or civilians taken prisoner or hostage has to meet with CIA and Special-Ops personnel IN SECRET to find out what they know, and work on whatever plans the experts in such operations deem necessary, then unleash them at the opportune time, when the enemies are most vulnerable. A good President makes these plans and says NOTHING to the press or the public, since rescue operations need the element of surprise to succeed.

Herman Cain can forget about being President. How about Treasury Secretary?

Steve Z on October 19, 2011 at 11:21 AM

One term as governor doesn’t make him a career politician, Cranky. He and Cain are both businessmen.
flataffect on October 19, 2011 at 10:48 AM

He ran for Senate before that, and he has been running for President for five years now. He may have been a business man once, but he isn’t anymore. His career for the last 10 years has been running for or being in office.

Cain’s mistakes are no more or less significant than everyone else in the race’s, but people like to pretend it’s an “experience” problem for Cain.

Look at Perry as the perfect example. Perry has been a 3 term governor and he actually extemporaneously said people don’t have a heart. He wasn’t asked “do you think those people who don’t support in-state tuition for illegals have a heart?” He said that completely of his own accord.

So I don’t get bent out of shape when Herman Cain answers the question actually asked of him but misses the implied question buried within. “Could you see yourself authorizing it?” Yeah, I can see myself doing a lot of things I never would actually do. The implied question though is “would you negotiate with terrorists?” and if you answer “yes” in any form to the actual question, people will think you mean “yes” to the implied one too.

The perfect answer to that question is to essentially not answer it (“We don’t negotiate with terrorists so I don’t see that hypothetical situation ever coming to pass”), so I can agree that Cain’s answer was bad. But unlike lots of people around here, that doesn’t mean you get to read a whole slew of foreign policy positions into one hypothetical that anyone who took five seconds to think about it would realize would never come to pass.

CrankyTRex on October 19, 2011 at 11:39 AM

@ CrankyTRex on October 19, 2011 at 11:39 AM
Amen.

ColdWarrior57 on October 19, 2011 at 12:10 PM

Mitt Romney is absolutely a career politician.

And every single of one of them up there has had gaffes and unforced errors. So who am I supposed to pick again? The guy that thinks I’m heartless? The guy that is proud of helping to ruin MA with RomneyCare? The woman who thinks the HPV vaccine makes you retarded?

CrankyTRex on October 19, 2011 at 10:21 AM

Well … if you’re a Cainlusional – it would be “no contest” – pick the guy that wants to release terrorists.

HondaV65 on October 19, 2011 at 4:44 PM

Well … if you’re a Cainlusional – it would be “no contest” – pick the guy that wants to release terrorists.

HondaV65 on October 19, 2011 at 4:44 PM

You are a dishonest person, twisting things to suit your bias. Your man is out.

gracie on October 19, 2011 at 4:54 PM

flataffect on October 19, 2011 at 10:48 AM

Perry worked in the “private sector” because he grew up on a cotton farm and helped his dad. When he got back from the Air Force, he helped his dad on the farm again before running for local office.

Aslans Girl on October 19, 2011 at 5:06 PM

Well … if you’re a Cainlusional – it would be “no contest” – pick the guy that wants to release terrorists.

HondaV65 on October 19, 2011 at 4:44 PM

Except Cain never said he wanted to release terrorists or that he even would release terrorists. He responded that he could see himself authorizing a swap in a BS hypothetical that everyone here is perfectly aware will never be a decision in front of him.

That doesn’t make his answer a good one, but it does not warrant even a modicum of the hysteria people have reacted with.

Every single one of them has gaffes, baggage, and bad answers to questions. If I’m going to base my vote on that, particularly if I start reading stuff into their answers beyond what they actually said, then I’m going to have to vote for Lizard People since Lizard People doesn’t have any quotes to pick apart this way.

CrankyTRex on October 19, 2011 at 8:04 PM

@ You are a dishonest person, twisting things to suit your bias. Your man is out.

gracie on October 19, 2011 at 4:54 PM

^5.Thanks for smoken him out.

ColdWarrior57 on October 19, 2011 at 8:50 PM

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