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Herman Cain scrambles to toe the pro-life line on abortion

Herman Cain is learning that off-the-cuff remarks and demonstrated ignorance – even from a candidate who touts his lack of political experience – goes only so far. For social conservatives, that means abortion.

By Staff writer / October 22, 2011

Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain arrives outside of Kinnick stadium in Iowa City, Iowa after riding the Hawkeye Express to campaign before Iowa's NCAA college football game against Indiana, Saturday, Oct. 22.

Brian Ray/AP

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Herman Cain won a straw poll vote in Nevada Friday, edging out establishment favorite Mitt Romney by a couple of percentage points in the race for the GOP presidential nomination.

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It may have been the single – though largely inconsequential – bright spot in Cain’s week as he scrambled to answer criticisms about his “9-9-9” tax plan, his waffling on abortion, what he said was a “joke” about an electrified fence along the US-Mexican border, and his lack of foreign policy smarts (which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made fun of in her meeting this week with Afghan President Hamid Karzai).

Then there were the reports that Cain’s campaign spent some $100,000 in campaign contributions to buy copies of Cain’s books and pamphlets from the company owned by Cain and his wife – probably not a huge deal, but a speed bump that does have an ethical/legal tinge guaranteed to last at least one news cycle.

Election 101: 10 things you should know about Herman Cain

The lesson Mr. Cain is quickly learning is that off-the-cuff remarks and demonstrated ignorance – even from a candidate who touts his lack of elected experience as an advantage – goes only so far.

What’s the importance of an “insignificant” country like Uzbekistan, he’s said, if it doesn’t help create jobs in the US. (Both Bush and Obama administrations have seen Uzbekistan as important to US interests in Afghanistan and Pakistan.)

He’s flip-flopped (or at least answered confusingly) about negotiating for the release of American prisoners held by terrorists, and he’s described his stance on foreign affairs as simply “an extension of the Reagan philosophy.”

“Reagan's philosophy, as you know, was peace through strength,” he said on Fox News. “My philosophy is peace through strength and clarity. We need to clarify who our friends are, clarify who our enemies are, stop giving money to the enemies and make sure that our enemies know who our friends are, that we are going to stand solidly behind.”

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