"Herman Cain: I Don’t Know The ‘President Of Ubeki-beki-beki-stan-stan’"
In an interview with the religious right Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain badly bungled Uzbekistan’s name and said his standard answer to “‘gotcha’ questions” would be that he doesn’t have answers.
BRODY: Are you ready for the ‘gotcha’ questions that are coming from the media and others on foreign policy? Like, who’s the president of Uzbekistan?…
CAIN: I’m ready for the ‘gotcha’ questions and they’re already starting to come. 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?
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Cain added that Uzbekistan was “insignificant” to U.S. national security interests:
Knowing who is the head of some of these small insignificant states around the world — I don’t think that is something that is critical to focusing on national security and getting this economy going. When I get ready to go visit that country, I’ll know who it is. But until then, I want to focus on the big issues that we need to solve.
With U.S.-Pakistan tensions on the rise, the Obama administration is in discussions with Uzbekistan about increasing military supply routes to the U.S.-led Afghanistan war through the former-Soviet republic, whose authoritarian president — Islam Karimov — has some human rights issues.
Cain’s mocking and ignorance of Uzbekistan come at the tail end of a tough week for the former pizza chain CEO on foreign policy, even as his star slid up a notch in the Republican nomination contest.
Lately, Cain’s been assailed by conservatives and liberals alike. On Wednesday, neoconservative Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin decried Cain’s “lack of rudimentary knowledge about foreign policy.” And an earlier Cain gaffe about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict led off a Saturday front page New York Times article about the GOP race’s inattention to global affairs (despite the nomination frontrunner Mitt Romney’s largely substance-free fear-mongering and general hawkishness).