Cain: "I Could See Myself" Freeing All Gitmo Detainees For One American Hostage

Posted: Oct 18, 2011 5:18 PM

Uh oh:


This video is quite a catch by my colleague Greg Hengler -- and a terrible misstep by Cain.  Most of his answer here was fine, albeit vague, but he totally jumps the shark on Guantanamo.  First of all, I'm stunned that he actually said he could "see himself" freeing KSM & Co. in exchange for a lone American hostage.  Second, when Blitzer floated the hypothetical about Al Qaeda making "demands" in exchange for this fictional hostage, he should have immediately replied, "the United States government does not negotiate with terrorists."  Period, end of story.  I expect we'll hear a "clarification" on this, perhaps as soon as tonight.  Yes, I realize he hedged a little bit, and talked about gathering "all the facts," but this should not have been a hard question to answer.  Far too often, Herman Cain fuels many people's suspicions that he's making his foreign policy up as he goes along.  That's a big, big problem.

UPDATE - During tonight's debate, Cain said he wasn't sure how the question was originally phrased, and suggested Al Qaeda did not come up.  After the debate, Anderson Cooper replayed the full exchange for him, and Cain disavowed his previous answer: "I misspoke."  He said the posture he inadvertently advanced would represent negotiating with terrorists, which he opposes.  He went on to say the original question went by too fast for him to properly internalize and answer. 

This is a relief, and it's nice to hear a politician say, "I was wrong."  Still, these sorts of missteps are magnified when you're in the Big Leagues.