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Cain declines cameras at NH editorial board meeting

By NBC's Jo Ling Kent and Andrew Rafferty

No cameras will be present when Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain sits down with the New Hampshire Union Leader's editorial board tomorrow, NBC News has confirmed.  He will become the first major candidate this election cycle to decline that an interview be filmed in a state where cameras at such gatherings have become commonplace.

The decision to ban cameras from tomorrow's meeting was made by the campaign just two days after Cain drew heat for a shaky answer he gave editors of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel after being asked if he agreed with how President Obama handled Libya.

After the question was asked, Cain took a long pause before answering. When he did begin to speak, Cain asked for clarification and at one point said, "I do not agree with the way he handled it for the following reason -- nope, that's a different one."  He added, "I got all this stuff twirling around in my head."

As for tomorrow's meeting, campaign spokesman JD Gordon told NBC News, "When [Cain's] pauses make national news, you have to look at why you do the things you do."

Gordon told reporters that Cain's answer on Libya had been taken out of context during the more than 30 minute interview.  Cain, the campaign said, had gotten only four hours of sleep and ultimately answered the question correctly.

However, when speaking to reporters yesterday in Iowa, the former businessman remained defiant that there was nothing wrong with his response.

"I don't understand why that pause created so much quote unquote controversy," Cain said.

Banning cameras from the meeting will likely do little to quiet Cain critics who say his answers were much more than a small pause and further proof he does not have a thorough grasp of foreign policy.

"No one said you need to have cameras at an editorial board meeting," Cain's spokesman Gordon said.

However, cameras at editorial meetings have become standard practice in New Hampshire. When Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum met with the Union Leader's editorial board earlier this fall, C-SPAN broadcast the interviews. Today, Jon Huntsman participated in a Nashua Telegraph editorial board meeting, which was streamed live on the web.

 "I cannot think of a single candidate who has refused an editorial board meeting," said James Pindell, political director at WMUR, a local station in New Hampshire. Pindell has covered three primary cycles in the Granite State.

 The Union Leader publisher, Joe McQuaid, who organizes the editorial board meetings was not immediately available for comment.

 Yesterday, McQuaid did express surprise at the Cain campaign's decision via Twitter. "Herman Cain doesn't want C-SPAN taping his interview here on Thursday. What's up with that?" he asked.

 The Union Leader is the only state wide daily newspaper in New Hampshire. Its editorial board endorsement is the most sought after support by a local news organization ahead of the New Hampshire Republican primary.