Cain complains that Cuba policy questions in Florida are “gotchas”

posted at 11:00 am on November 17, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Really?  That could be a valid complaint from a candidate stumping for votes in places like Iowa and New Hampshire, where voters probably don’t have too much concern over the “wet foot dry foot” policy of accepting Cuban refugees.  When a candidate goes to Florida and explicitly campaigns in the Cuban-American community to get them, those questions seem more pertinent than “gotcha” — especially when the topic at hand was Barack Obama’s “foggy foreign policy”:

Cain, who last week stumbled over questions about what he would do in Libya, seemed to know little about Cuba. His campaign kept reporters at bay, and when asked about the Cuban Adjustment Act and the so-called wet-foot, dry-foot policy, Cain seemed stumped.  The policy allows Cuban immigrants who have made it to US soil to stay.

“Wet foot, dry foot policy?” Cain asked. His press handlers interrupted as Cain diverted his course and ducked back into the building. Later, when he emerged, he was asked again by another reporter. Cain wouldn’t answer. …

Cain, though, wouldn’t talk to reporters there, either. A FOX reporter asked Cain what he thought of President Obama’s easing of travel restrictions to Cuba. Cain said that was a “gotcha question.”

The Miami Herald has video of the question regarding refugee policy:

Cain also offered what looks like a moment similar to Barack Obama’s “Austrian” language gaffe:

At Versailles, Cain sipped cafecito and munched on croquetas[.] “How do you say ‘delicious’ in Cuban?” he asked, perhaps not realizing there is not language as ‘Cuban.’

Perhaps this was another joke on the campaign trail, but we raked Obama over the coals for doing the exact same thing in 2009.  And saying that Obama does this, as Cain’s defenders have done with other “jokes” on the campaign trail, isn’t much of a confidence builder.

On economic policy, Cain has a great deal to contribute.  On foreign policy, though, he seems lost.  The refugee policy that the Herald referenced is a big deal in America’s policy toward Cuba, and the status of travel restrictions even more so.  Cain came to Florida to speak to the Cuban-American community on foreign policy without apparently bothering to study on the issues that mean the most to them.  The lack of depth on foreign policy is worrisome enough, but the lack of skillful preparation for this campaign tour is even more worrisome.

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I had a friend from Mexico who would note quite frequently that Cubans pronounce things differently (i.e. “wrongly” to him).

whatcat on November 17, 2011 at 3:31 PM

LOL.. yes, I worked for many years involved with the Mexican communities of North Houston and I know exactly what you mean!

Was it Churchill who said something to the effect it’s two people separated by a common language? My biggest slip there was when speaking of 70s groups to a Brit gal buddy I mentioned the U.S. all-girl group “Fanny”. Hilarity and a redfaces ensued.

whatcat on November 17, 2011 at 3:35 PM

Yes, it was. That Churchill quote kinda became our inside joke. I bet your time there was fun times, huh? It’s amazing the way common languages take on their own personalities.

Texas Gal on November 17, 2011 at 4:07 PM

The rest of what I said was that there is a conversational Cuban slang, therefore, there is such a thing as a Cuban language.
Texas Gal on November 17, 2011 at 4:02 PM

Also the differences in pronunciation, such as “estos” sounding like “etos” due to the Cuban tendency to drop the “inside s” in words.

whatcat on November 17, 2011 at 4:09 PM

whatcat on November 17, 2011 at 4:09 PM

And both countries were at one time colonial Spainish. It’s the mixing of the Castillians with the natives that produced their language.

And of course there is a sub-level of Mexican slang .. some of which I also speak… ;)

Well, I’ve got to get busy. Enjoy the day.

Texas Gal on November 17, 2011 at 4:17 PM

That Churchill quote kinda became our inside joke. I bet your time there was fun times, huh? It’s amazing the way common languages take on their own personalities.
Texas Gal on November 17, 2011 at 4:07 PM

It was Hong Kong ex-pat Brit, but the old slang from England carries over and picks up some new local flavor, of course. Common sayings are a good source of laughs too: “I’ve got bigger fish to fry” resulted in a puzzled “You’re going to fry fish?”.

But I’ve made the mental adjustments to process the more common terms without thinking – e.g. “straightaway”, “proper”.

whatcat on November 17, 2011 at 4:18 PM

There isn’t a Spanish word for “piling on,” is there?

I’m Spanish American and I have Cuban American second cousins. I’ve had friends from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Uraguay, etc.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with Cain asking how to say delicious in Cuban. Everyone understood what he meant.

Does anyone here actually think that Cain didn’t know they speak Spanish in Cuba? Please.

Like others have said, Cuban Spanish is different from the Spanish I speak (Castilian) and the Spanish Mexicans speak. A little like American English and English from England, but in some ways the differences are more pronounced.

And I could listen to Cain say “Chilean” for 4 years very happily. lol (Love how he says that.)

Elisa on November 18, 2011 at 12:22 AM

I visited a friend in Australia and we went to a Harley-Davidson shop. After I asked for and said “fanny pack” several times my friend kindly drew me aside and explained to me what “fanny” meant there. Not good…

We joked quite frequently that he spoke “Aussie” and I spoke “American” because there were so many times while we were talking to each other that we had to explain what we meant. Another example” I wanted to bake an apple pie and so I asked him several times at the grocery store for “ready-made pastry” crust and he finally referred me to the grocery store clerk who also couldn’t figure out what I meant. It was like a comedy routine by the time I finally was able to explain it to them enough for them to find me the right product.

My support for Herman Cain became highly questionable over the Libya issue (which is a serious issue), but to take him to task over how to say delicious in “Cuban” is absolutely ABSURD. I think Ed and some of the other commenters here are the only ones irrational enough to do this.

I’m open to Cain supporters as to how to excuse the Lybia flub. I know how emotionally taxing this week has been for him, but honestly I can’t figure out how someone running for president can be so clueless concerning real news and politics… I’m open to rational explanations though. Because I don’t throw our own under the bus so easily as some.

Joy on November 18, 2011 at 12:22 AM

My support for Herman Cain became highly questionable over the Libya issue (which is a serious issue), but to take him to task over how to say delicious in “Cuban” is absolutely ABSURD. I think Ed and some of the other commenters here are the only ones irrational enough to do this.

I’m open to Cain supporters as to how to excuse the Lybia flub. I know how emotionally taxing this week has been for him, but honestly I can’t figure out how someone running for president can be so clueless concerning real news and politics… I’m open to rational explanations though. Because I don’t throw our own under the bus so easily as some.

Joy on November 18, 2011 at 12:22 AM

I think he was just very tired from going on 4 hours sleep for a couple weeks. I hope he’s cut that out.

Because I heard him answer the Libya question perfectly and in detail just a few weeks ago. I wish I could remember where to link it.

Yes, he needs alot of work with foreign policy, but he is not a boob. I would be totally confident having him in the White House when it comes to foreign policy. He has good instincts, good conservative principles, is a quick study and (YES) would surround himself with the right people. Like a John Bolton type, who he praised.

I would sleep very well at night having Cain as President. I have no worries about that. It’s Cain as a candidate that worries me when it comes to foreign policy. Because of the savaging an piling on that is going on.

they have worn this man down the last few weeks. It started with Politico. This NEVER would have happened years ago. Even a pretense at good journalism wouldn’t have allowed that non story with anonymous sources to be published and no other “respectable” even left leaning news agency would have picked it up.

But then it was fair game, piling on from all sides, with no proof.

Everything stems from that Politico story. Those who believe it or question if it might be true. Those who think he didn’t handle the story well. And all the mistakes and gaffes he’s made since because he’s lost his stride and they worn him down and he has to focus his time and energy on nonsense.

As far as the “gotcha questions.” Just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean that people aren’t really out to get you. lol

I’m sure Politico must be very proud and all the left wing media must be patting them on the back.

Like someone here said, we get the candidate the media allows us to get.

Elisa on November 18, 2011 at 12:34 AM

Elisa on November 18, 2011 at 12:34 AM

Gimmee a farkin’ brake. It isn’t Politico that’s destroying Cain’s candidacy-it’s Cain himself. If he wasn’t incompetent and had fired Mark Block-he’d be doing better. Period.

annoyinglittletwerp on November 18, 2011 at 9:23 AM

And down he goes. =(

It was fun while it lasted.

rollthedice on November 18, 2011 at 10:54 AM

Elisa, you are right. We get the candidate that the media allows us to get. All of the media. Dick Morris said it a while back. Fox News will pick the GOP candidate.

I’m ready for a new network. Instead of Fair and Balanced…how about Fair and Truthful.

balkanmom on November 18, 2011 at 10:58 AM

Elisa on November 18, 2011 at 12:34 AM

Gimmee a farkin’ brake. It isn’t Politico that’s destroying Cain’s candidacy-it’s Cain himself. If he wasn’t incompetent and had fired Mark Block-he’d be doing better. Period.

annoyinglittletwerp on November 18, 2011 at 9:23 AM

Yes, it was the media that brought him down, including the piling on after Politico. Your comment proves just what I said:

Everything stems from that Politico story. Those who believe it or question if it might be true. Those who think he didn’t handle the story well. And all the mistakes and gaffes he’s made since because he’s lost his stride and they worn him down and he has to focus his time and energy on nonsense.

Elisa on November 18, 2011 at 12:34 PM

Elisa – Thank you! I appreciate your input. And I agree with all the piling on, that he would be very hesitant to answer certain questions for fear he would be taken wrong or out of context. And so far that’s all the press is given him our questions were they later used the “gotcha” on him. It’s easy for us to answer questions from our easy chairs or in the case of some, their basements, but answering questions that you already know the person is looking to spin it, would not be a good situation, especially for a person who is used to being open and honest like he is.

And it’s also easy to see how many of the people piling on were never for Herman Cain to begin with.

Joy on November 19, 2011 at 2:34 AM

Just saw ol’Herb on Letterman… keep right on talking, Herb!

benny shakar on November 19, 2011 at 3:35 AM

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