Former Godfather's Pizza CEO and Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain surged to the top of the polls this fall, managing to hold a surprisingly steady frontrunner status alongside fellow contender Mitt Romney, all the while dealing with a persistent sexual harassment scandal and some major blunders along the way.
Cain hasn't run an average campaign by any means -- something he's happy to boast about. His charismatic presence an unorthodox style have represented a change from the type of politician Americans have grown increasingly impatient with, which has in turn made him quite popular with conservative voters. But Cain's lack of experience in politics has provided more than a few gaffes and unconventional quotes or actions.
Here's a look at some of Cain's most unforgettable moments so far:
When Herman Cain started leading in the polls in early October, Sarah Plain called the former pizza mogul the "flavor of the week." Cain fired back, telling Jay Leno on the "Tonight Show" that actually, he's "black walnut" -- a flavor that lasts longer than a week. "I can eat black walnut all the time -- it's not a flavor of the week! It's not that heavy. You can eat it on the cone or in a cup," Cain later said on "Fox and Friends." Over a month later, when pressed in an interview with GQ to name what ice cream flavors his competitors would be, Cain replied that Mitt Romney is "just plain vanilla," Rick Perry, "rocky road," and Michele Bachmann, "tutti-frutti." He added after that last one, "I know I'm going to get in trouble!" In that same interview Cain was asked what you can tell about a man by the kind of pizza he likes and asserted that the more toppings you pile on, the more manly you are. Not vegetables, though. That's "sissy pizza," the candidate said.
Beaming with confidence in an interview with Christian Broadcasting Network on Oct. 10, Cain boldly said that he was "ready for the 'gotcha' questions." "When they ask me who is the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan I'm going to say you know, I don't know. Do you know?" he said. The GOP candidate said he'd prefer to stick to his priorities of job creation and national security.
Weighing in on the Occupy Wall Street movement, the former CEO called protesters un-American, and said if they weren't successful, it's their own fault. "If you're not rich, blame yourself," Cain told the Wall Street Journal. Not backing down, the candidate later said the protesters were jealous, and inferred they want to take "somebody else's Cadillac."
In mid-October a 20-year old video surfaced of Herman Cain singing "Imagine There's No Pizza," his twist on John Lennon's "Imagine." Cain gave the performance in 1991 at an Omaha Press Club meeting. The first verse goes as follows: Imagine there's no pizza I couldn't if I tried Eating only tacos Or Kentucky Fried Imagine only burgers It's frightening and sad
The Herman Cain team released a campaign ad in late-October that caused a media firestorm for what happens in the last few seconds: Cain's Chief of Staff Mark Block puffs on a cigarette. The video, of course, went totally viral, and caused some uproar from those that don't believe a presidential candidate should appear to be indirectly condoning smoking.
On PBS' NewsHour early November, Herman Cain tackled the topic of nuclear threat. In one of the first of many foreign policy blunders, Cain warned that China is "trying to develop nuclear capability." In fact, China already has nuclear weapons, and tested its first device in 1964. Cain later defended himself on an interview on Fox News. Referencing his critics he said, "I would say to them, do you think I'm dumb enough not to study up on these issues? I have been studying on these issues for months."
Herman Cain took a controversial jab at President Barack Obama while mingling with conservative voters outside a diner in Michigan. He told the crowd, "How do you beat Obama? Beat him with a Cain!"
Smack dab in the middle of a sexual harassment scandal, Herman Cain addressed the House Minority Leader and former House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as "Princess Nancy" during an early November GOP presidential debate. Referring to a health care legislation the candidate said, "We didn't hear about it in the previous Congress because Princess Nancy sent it to committee and it stayed there." Though the remark got laughs from the audience, many said it was inappropriate and ill-timed with Cain fighting to beat back allegations of sexual harassment toward women.
Two days after the GOP debate during which Herman Cain referred to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as "princess," the candidate once again made a questionable statement concerning the sexual harassment claims being brought against him. The GOP candidate was caught on tape cracking a joke about Anita Hill, the law professor who accused Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment 20 years ago. Referencing a supporter's question about Hill, Cain laughed and said "Is she going to endorse me?"
Herman Cain's struggle to answer a basic question about Libya was such a stumble it might have even out-gaffed fellow presidential contender Rick Perry's epic debate flub. When asked in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel if he agreed with President Obama's handling of Libya, Cain looked as if he was running through flash cards in his head. "Okay, Libya," he said. "President Obama supported the uprising, correct? President Obama called for the removal of [Muammar] Gaddafi. Just wanted to make sure we're talking about the same thing before I say, 'Yes, I agreed. No, I didn't agree. He went on, "I do not agree with the way he handled it for the following reason-- Nope, that's a different one ... I got all this stuff twirling around in my head." In the same interview Cain said it wouldn't be "practical" to attack Iran because of its topography. "Where are you going to strike. It's very mountainous. That's what makes it very difficult," he said. The comments gave further weight to the criticism that Cain lacks sufficient knowledge of foreign policy.
Fresh off a botched interview with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Cain told a reporter at the paper "I'm not supposed to know anything about foreign policy. Just thought I'd throw that out." He also claimed that he offered the position of secretary of state to Henry Kissinger, who served in that role in Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford's cabinets. He said the 88-year-old Kissinger turned him down, but his campaign later claimed that he hadn't actually asked Kissinger to serve.
While sampling a croqueta and coffee at a campaign stop in Miami mid-November, Herman Cain asked the crowd, "How do you say delicious in Cuban?" Of course, the national language in Cuba is Spanish. Realizing this, Cain went back to his talking point, translating his hallmark 9-9-9 economic plan: "Nueve, nueve, nueve."
Defending recent foreign policy missteps, Herman Cain said "the president doesn't need to know every detail about every country." The GOP hopeful said at a campaign event, "We need a leader, not a reader."
|Seats gained or lost||+2||-2|