It's All Politics
3:05 pm
Wed November 16, 2011

In Swing Through Sunshine State, Cain Struggles To Regain Momentum

Herman Cain followed a path well-worn by other presidential candidates in Miami to the Versailles Restaurant in Little Havana on Wednesday. While there, he had a cup of Cuban coffee, sampled a croquette and, playing to the largely Cuban-American crowd called out, "Freedom for Cuba!"

Florida is where Cain for a time became a frontrunner — winning the GOP straw poll here two months ago. But in the past few weeks, he's struggled. First came allegations of sexual harassment.

This week, GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain raised questions about his foreign policy expertise when he fumbled for an answer after the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board asked him whether he agreed with President Obama on Libya.

In the video, Cain sits back, crosses his legs and looks perplexed, finally saying, "Got all this stuff twirling around in my head. Specifically, what are you asking me that I agree or disagree with Obama?"

Recent polls show Cain is now running second or third behind Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney. On a campaign swing through Florida, he's trying to recapture some of that momentum.

In Miami, Cain talked to the crowd about his plans for tax reform — "Nueve, Nueve, Nueve," he called it here to much applause.

And, apparently referring to his mishap with the Journal Sentinel, he said he's sometimes criticized because he's never held public office "...and criticized," he said, "that I don't know this and I don't know that."

A leader, Cain said, doesn't have to know everything. He said, "I can tell you what I do know. I know how to surround myself with good people. And I know the right questions to ask in order to solve the problem."

That answer satisfied many of the Cain supporters in the crowd, including Juan Fiol, who runs a real estate company in Miami. Fiol said he was voting for Cain because he's a businessman, not a politician. Fiol said, "If he's not fully fluent in foreign policy yet, then that's fine. A good CEO would surround himself with people who do know foreign policy like... Gingrich."

Fiol and others in the crowd said they like Cain, but if he fades, they'll happily settle on Gingrich, Romney or one of the other Republican candidates.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Another Republican vying for the White House spent today in Florida. Herman Cain has been struggling recently, first with allegations of sexual harassment. And he's still answering questions about his fumbling response, earlier this week, when asked about Libya.

NPR's Greg Allen caught up with Cain in Miami.

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: Herman Cain followed a path well-worn by other presidential candidates to the Versailles Restaurant on Miami's 8th Street, Calle Ocho. And he played to the largely Cuban-American crowd.

HERMAN CAIN: Freedom for Cuba now.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

ALLEN: Florida is where Cain, for a time, became a frontrunner, winning the GOP straw poll here two months ago. In the past week, though, he's dropped back in the polls, running second or third behind Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney. On his campaign swing through Florida, he's trying to recapture some of that momentum.

This week, he raised questions about his foreign policy expertise when he fumbled for an answer, after the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board asked him whether he agreed with President Obama on Libya.

CAIN: Got all this stuff twirling around in my head. Specifically, what are you asking me that I agree or not disagree with Obama?

ALLEN: In Miami, after sampling some Cuban coffee and a croquette, Cain talked to the crowd about his plans for tax reform.

CAIN: Nueve, Nueve, Nueve.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

ALLEN: And, apparently referring to his mishap with the Journal Sentinel, he said he's sometimes criticized because he's never held public office.

CAIN: I'm criticized that I don't know this and I don't know that, and I don't know that and I don't know this. You know, a leader doesn't have to know everything. But a leader needs to know something. And I can tell you what I do know. I know how to surround myself with good people. And I know the right questions to ask in order to solve the problem.

ALLEN: That answer satisfied many of the Cain supporters in the crowd, including Juan Fiol, who runs a real estate company in Miami. Fiol said he was voting for Cain because he's a businessman, not a politician.

JUAN FIOL: So, if he's not fully fluent in foreign policy yet, then that's fine. A good CEO would surround himself with people who do know foreign policy, like, I don't know, Gingrich.

ALLEN: Fiol and others I spoke to said they like Cain, but if he fades, they'll happily settle on Gingrich, Romney or one of the other Republican candidates.

Greg Allen, NPR News, Miami. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.