Herman Cain's Florida Tour Gaffes: Was Media Criticism "Over the Top"?

Photo by Adele Hampton
Herman Cain, the presidential contender who loves to shout the number "nine," took a whirlwind tour through Florida last week, visiting Sweetwater, Miami, Coral Springs, West Palm, and Palm Beach. While he was down in Miami, he bent to Spanglophone tastes by shouting "nueve, nueve, nueve" instead.

But what lit up reporters across the country was when Cain stumbled after a reporter asked him his opinion on the "wet-foot, dry-foot" policy regarding Cuban immigration. Our sister paper to the south called him out for his ignorance of Cuban issues, and so did... pretty much everyone else.

Now the highfalutin journalist types at the Columbia Journalism Review are saying maybe that gaffe got too much media attention.

Blogger Brian E. Crowley says
that Florida media did a pretty good job of covering Cain's multistop tour but that "media outside the state often took the easy way out."

That meant quoting Cain's bumbling on "wet-foot" (which a few of us hadn't heard of either), or the time he asked, "How do you say 'delicious' in Cuban?" As Crowley shows, this was repeated over and over:

Los Angeles Times:

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain again failed to demonstrate command of a foreign policy topic Wednesday as he courted Cuban conservatives in southern Florida.

Asked by Miami Herald reporter Marc Caputo what he thinks of the "wet-foot, dry-foot" policy that allows Cubans who reach U.S. soil to stay, Cain was stumped.

New York:

At this point, it's barely even noteworthy that Herman Cain has absolutely no familiarity with or understanding of anything related to foreign policy. Nevertheless, in the interest of Informing the Public (of Hilarious Things), here is what happened yesterday in South Florida: Cain suggested that "Cuban" is a language, appeared to have no idea what the "wet foot, dry foot" policy is...

Et cetera.

"In fact, the campaign media missed an opportunity to explore and explain a unique immigration policy that is aimed at a single country, an issue that remains important to a significant bloc of Florida voters," writes Crowley. "Outside of the immigrant population of South Florida few people would know, understand, or care about the 'wet-foot, dry-foot' policy."

Thoughtfully and even-handedly informing the public about an interesting issue while sidestepping raucus political pigeonholing?

Now that just sounds un-American.

Stefan Kamph is a New Times staff writer.
The Pulp: Facebook | @thePulpBPB
Stefan Kamph: Story archiveFacebook | @stefankamph

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help

The media is generally unfair to candidates and unfair to the public by focusing on the gaffes, the horse race of who is ahead/behind and avoiding actually asking intelligent follow up questions or deep intellectual query.Having written that, I confess, Herman Cain is singularly unqualified to be president or a candidate for any high office.  His claim to fame is working for a company that produced the worse pizza in the world; proving even an embarrassment for the Pillsburh Dough Boy.His economic "plan" is sophomoric and the numbers dont add up (even he cant figure them out), his knowledge of foreign policy (exotic places like Libya and Iran for example) is non-existent and he seems slogan-driven and substance free.If he were a white, ignorant, conservative with a big hat and massive ego he wouldnt be in the race.  He makes Santorum look like a statesman!


This blogger Mr. Crowley must realize that Mr. Cain was talking to FLORIDA voters, right? Wet-foot-dry-foot may not be interesting to all voters, but it's certainly interesting to voters in...FLORIDA.

It may not be interesting to everyone that Mr. Cain doesn't appear to know that "Cuban" is a nationality rather than a language, but it's certainly interesting to Cuban-American voters, who tend to be found in very great numbers in...FLORIDA.

I could rant about how this represents the standard narcissistic, navel-gazing, condescending lens with which elite Northeast academic institutions view the country. Instead I'll simply say that perhaps Mr. Crowley probably should have spoken to a Floridian or two before passing judgement on what our media does--it's what a journalist would do.


Is there any wonder why the repub candidates are actively avoiding the media?  Every time they open their mouth near a microphone they promptly insert foot.  The fact that Cain has no idea about the Cuban immigration policy is hardly surprising.  He does not seem to know much about anything, including pizza.  Ate it one when I was a kid..NOT pretty.Now if I was a republican voter, I am not rich so why should I do something stupid like that, I would be clamoring for ANYONE else to vote for.  Preferably with enough brain cells to do the job.  Its sad when the entire republican field is beginning to make Bush jr look like a Rhodes Scholar.


Golly, if a lack of perfect mastery of foreign policy disqualifies a candidate, then Barack needs to scuttle back under his Chicago rock.  And Barack, unlike Cain, has had 3 years to learn and thousands of advisers to help him.

For Pete's sake, Monaco recognized the Libyan rebels before Barack the Dim.  And how's Barak's incompetence (if not timidity) on Morocco, Egypt, Iraq, North Korea, and Syria grab you?  

Lifelong Dem
Lifelong Dem

I think his basic problem is that he can't see Russia from his back porch.

Chaz Stevens, Genius
Chaz Stevens, Genius

In all fairness, it was hot outside and he didn't have his cowboy hat on.

Lifelong Dem
Lifelong Dem

In 2008, 60 million of us voted for Obama.In 2012, more than 60 million of us will vote for him.The Republicans have only one qualified candidate, Newt, and he's morally bankrupt.Republicans are anti-Hispanic, anti-woman, anti-black and anti-progress.They can't win.

Now Trending

Miami Concert Tickets

From the Vault