Cain, Block have different explanations for China gaffe

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter

As if businessman Herman Cain’s presidential campaign didn’t have enough problems this week, on Wednesday Cain and his campaign manager Mark Block somewhat bungled the correction of a foreign policy gaffe Cain made during a PBS interview. Speaking with Judy Woodruff on Monday, Cain said China was a military threat because it was working to develop nuclear weapons. China has had nuclear capability since 1964.

Block and Cain both walked back the statement Wednesday evening within a half-hour of each other, but offered different explanations of what Cain actually meant to say, indicating a communications lapse.

“Yes, they’re a military threat,” Cain said of China on the PBS NewsHour. “They’ve indicated that they’re trying to develop nuclear capability and they want to develop more aircraft carriers like we have. So yes, we have to consider them a military threat.”

In an interview with The Daily Caller’s Ginni Thomas Wednesday, Cain walked back the comment, saying, “Maybe I misspoke.”

“What I meant was, China does not have the size of the nuclear capability that we have. They do have a nuclear capability. I was talking about that total nuclear capability. So that’s what I meant by that,” he explained.

But while Cain was speaking with TheDC, Block was across town telling Fox News Channel’s Brett Baier that when Cain made that comment, “he was referring to the nuclear capability that China was getting for their submarines and their aircraft carriers.”

This is not the first foreign policy gaffe Cain has made. In October he drew flack from his fellow candidates for suggesting that he would free all of the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay in exchange for one American prisoner.

The former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza has also indicated that foreign policy is not high on his list of priorities. Speaking to Christian Broadcasting Network, Cain said that if people asked him “gotcha questions” as his campaign went on, he would not fall for them.

“And when they ask me, ‘Who is the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan?’ I’m going to say you know, ‘I don’t know. Do you know?’ And then I’m going to say, ‘How’s that going to create one job?'” he said.

But the inconsistencies between Cain and Block’s statements suggest a further problem with campaign’s communications strategy. In the ongoing turmoil surrounding allegations of sexual harassment, Cain’s campaign has been attacked for putting out varying and often contradictory statements on the alleged incidents, despite having had ten days to prepare for the publication of the first article by Politico detailing the allegations.

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