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Cain reiterates foreign policy, plays down 'reassessment'



HILLSDALE, Mich. -- Those looking for Herman Cain to display a specific and thorough understanding of foreign policy were likely disappointed by tonight's address at Hillsdale College.

Also disappointed - those looking for insights into the future of a campaign that today Cain said was going through a "reassessment."

The former Georgia businessman largely reiterated the same foreign policy message he has harped upon out on the campaign trail.   He told the crowd of nearly 400 gathered at Hillsdale College that it is imperative America clearly define its friends and enemies while demonstrating military and economic might.  It is what he on the campaign trail calls an extension of the Reagan philosophy, "peace through strength and clarity."

But Cain remained vague about the parameters with which he would define America's relationship with other countries, and mentioned few specific examples.

"We cannot make any nation our friend, but we can make them respect us," said Cain.  "And when we are strong militarily and strong economically and demonstrate that we stick to our moral fiber, nations will respect us rather than look down on us."

Tonight's speech comes after Cain has experienced weeks of criticism for botching foreign policy questions, most notably during a meeting with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel where paused and then proceeded with a rambling answer about whether he agrees with how President Obama has handled Libya.

The largest cloud hanging over the Cain campaign during tonight's speech though, was the news his campaign may be undergoing a "reassessment."  The comments came during a conference call with senior staffers this morning in the wake of yesterday's news of a Georgia woman claiming to have had a 13-year affair with the candidate.

Senior campaign staff spent the day downplaying the comments and saying it was simply a reference to reassessing campaign strategy.

As his speech began tonight, Cain tweeted, "Team HC: The definition of reassess is: To consider again, esp. while paying attention to new factors. Doesn't sound like dropping out."

As he ducked into a car that would take him to the event, Cain told NBC News, "9-9-9. 9-9-9. We're doing fine" in response to a question about the future of his candidacy.

One day after an Atlanta woman came forward alleging a 13-year long affair, Herman Cain told staffers he is reassessing his candidacy. NBC's Lisa Myers has more.