ThinkProgress filed this report from the Western Republican Leadership Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.
As presidential hopeful Herman Cain has vaulted to the front of the Republican pack, a major achilles heel has emerged in the former pizza executive’s background: foreign policy.
Cain has earned widespread criticism not only for his lack of expertise in international affairs, but for also at times appearing uninterested in the subject. (Earlier this month, Cain blew off concerns about his lack of foreign policy chops, declaring it unimportant that he didn’t know who – in his words – “the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan” is.)
Speaking at the Western Republican Leadership Conference on Wednesday, Cain dismissed critics who worry that his lack of foreign policy understanding make the former pizza executive unfit to be commander-in-chief. Cain noted that he has “consulted with foreign policy experts” before relaying the message they gave him: “Herman, all you need is character and common sense and intelligence and we’ve got plenty of people who can fill out the details and help you with putting together the strategy.”
CAIN: Foreign policy. When you rise up in the polls, you get this big target on your back. And so I have been criticized for not having extensive foreign policy experience. And the guy there now does? Richard, is this a double-standard or something that’s going on here? I have consulted with foreign policy experts. Let me tell you what they have told me. “Herman, all you need is character and common sense and intelligence and we’ve got plenty of people who can fill out the details and help you with putting together the strategy.” That’s what leaders do!
Cain’s insistence that a commander-in-chief can relegate foreign affairs to mere “details” that can be filled in by advisers as he simply relies on his “character and common sense and intelligence” is absurd. Managing the United States’ foreign policy is one of the single most important roles a president plays, yet Cain is at best still learning new information as his campaign progresses, at worst uninterested in the matter at all.
Critics could be forgiven for worrying that a similar approach 11 years ago by then-Gov. George W. Bush resulted in the disastrous foreign policy missteps of the 2000s.