A year of oops: five big political gaffes of 2011

There’s nothing like a presidential campaign cycle to bring out big political gaffes. 2011 had some doozies, and some of the most memorable actually weren’t on the campaign trail.

5. Herman Cain takes a twirl

Jim Cole/AP/File
Herman Cain speaks during a rally with supporters in Nashua, N.H., Nov. 17. Cain seemed confused about Libya, blaming “all this stuff twirling around in my head” for his difficulty in formulating a response.

Book tours, bigwig fundraisers, endless bus rides – when does a candidate just have time to let his mind rest? Preferably not while meeting with a group of newspaper editors who are peppering him with foreign-policy questions.

Tea party favorite Herman Cain’s answer to what he thought about President Obama’s Libya policy wandered into the painful-to-watch territory. He blamed “all this stuff twirling around in my head” for his difficulty in formulating a response.

When asked more specifically whether he, as president, would have committed ground troops, Mr. Cain said, “I didn’t, nope. I didn’t – I said I would have done a better job of assessing the situation relative to the opposition first ....” Cain’s advisers defended the candidate’s confusion, blaming it on a lack of proper rest.

The painful chair squirm eventually paled against a bigger “uh-oh” that eventually forced Cain to abandon his campaign – namely, a small army of alleged mistresses who hired at least one celebrity attorney, told their stories to the press, and waved phone records with the former pizza baron’s personal cellphone number on it.

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