Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain struggled to answer a question during an interview Monday when asked whether he supported President Barack Obama's foreign policy in Libya.
A top aide said later Monday that Cain had not had enough sleep.
The exchange over Libya with the Georgia businessman came during a meeting with the editorial board of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Cain hesitated when asked whether he agreed with Obama's decision to back Libyan rebels in overthrowing Moammar Gadhafi. The longtime Libyan dictator was killed last month.
"I do not agree with the way he handled it for the following reason," Cain said in the videotaped interview.
"Uh, nope that's, that's a different one," said Cain, who fidgeted in his chair and crossed his legs. "See, I got to go back, see, got all this stuff twirling around in my head. Specifically what are you asking me, did I agree or not disagree with Obama?"
Cain eventually explained that he would have done a better job than Obama assessing the nature of the Libyan opposition to Gadhafi. The Republican said he would have supported many of the steps taken to stop killings by Gadhafi's forces.
He conceded that might have ended up taking the same steps that Obama took.
Asked later about the exchange, Cain dismissed his stumble.
"I paused so I could gather my thoughts," Cain said.
Cain spokesman J.D. Gordon said Monday that Cain had four hours of sleep because of a busy campaign schedule when he sat for the interview, including the question on Libya. He said Cain took his time answering because the candidate wanted to make sure he was focusing on the right problem.
Gordon said Cain received briefings on recent Arab Spring developments in Libya, Yemen, Syria, Egypt and Tunisia in preparation for a Republican debate Saturday focusing on foreign policy issues.
Cain said he would have done a better job than Obama in assessing the opposition to Gadhafi to make sure the rebels were not loyal to al-Qaida.
"After things erupted, now we discover that some of the members of the opposition were actually al-Qaida members," he told reporters in Green Bay. "That's not the proper due diligence in my opinion."