Whether Herman Cain survives the controversy stemming from allegations of sexual harassment from his days at the National Restaurant Association, this is hardly his first controversy, gaffe, or misstep this campaign.
The Washington Post’s Dan Balz makes that point today, noting, in part:
“It is understandable that Cain doesn’t have answers to all the questions that are being thrown at him. He is in most ways a political newcomer not steeped in the policy discussions of an experienced politician. But he has now been in the race for many months. He has debated numerous times. He has done even more interviews.
“Even if the sexual harassment issue proves to be a transitory problem — and there’s nothing to suggest it will disappear quickly — Cain will still need to demonstrate a surer grasp and an ability to master the learning curve that all successful candidates master.”
In addition to Cain’s changing or evolving story on what he did or didn’t know in relation to the sexual harassment settlements, his parsing of the words “settlements vs. agreements,” and saying race played a part in the story, Cain has made a habit during this campaign of backtracks and stumbles on a host of issues.
For instance, he backtracked and parsed when asked whether he’d be “comfortable” having a Muslim in his administration. He said he would impose a test of how much someone loves America before choosing to hire them, if he believes them.
He denied during a FOX debate that he said communities have a right to ban a mosque from being built, blaming staff that helped Chris Wallace prep for the debate for misquoting him. Yet, it was on Wallace’s FOX News Sunday show where the exchange originated.
He also stumbled when talking about abortion, indicating he was pro-choice in some instances during an interview with Piers Morgan on CNN and then later saying he was against abortion in all instances, and that he was tired during that interview because of too much campaigning.
Aside from struggling to explain, especially the sales-tax component, of 9-9-9, asked about “Occupy Wall Street,” he said, “If you don’t have a job, and you’re not rich, blame yourself.” He said at a later debate he was just talking about the “Occupy” protesters -- not the 14 million unemployed at large.
He’s invoked race. During this campaign, he said black voters were “brainwashed” into voting for Democrats and that he had "left the Democratic plantation a long time ago.” He has also invoked race heavily in his past writings, when, for example, in 2005 he wrote of “Separate Water Fountains” when it came to Social Security.
And then there’s foreign policy. He said he didn’t have a plan for Afghanistan and would defer to advisers; he was unaware of the Palestinian right of return; he said China was seeking nuclear weapons, though it already has them -- he backtracked today, saying he misspoke; he gave that “Ubeki-beki-beki-stan-stan” comment about not knowing the leaders of foreign countries like that fictitious land; and he said in an interview with Bill O’Reilly that he would want more ships in the Persian Gulf, even if it prompted a war with Iran -- “That would be perfectly all right,” Cain said, which Balz noted, “because I believe we have a superior capability.”