Cain vows to "change some of the rules" at United Nations

Republican presidential candidate businessman Herman Cain speaks during a Republican Presidential Debate at Oakland University in Auburn Hills, Mich., Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011. AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Republican presidential candidate businessman Herman Cain speaks during a Republican Presidential Debate at Oakland University in Auburn Hills, Mich., Nov. 9, 2011.
AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Herman Cain wants to "change some of the rules" at the United Nations so that the international body's host nation is treated with more respect.

"I would not allow a pip-squeak potentate dictator... to come here and insult our president," the Republican presidential candidate said Friday in an interview with conservative talk show host Michael Savage. Cain's comments on the United Nations came on the eve of a Republican presidential candidates' debate that National Journal and CBS News will host Saturday on foreign policy and national security issues.

The U.N.'s annual fall meetings, a forum for speeches by world leaders, have sometimes turned into venues for opponents of U.S. policy to engage in headline-grabbing guerilla theatre. In 2006, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez infamously described George W. Bush as "the devil" and said the chamber still "smells of sulphur" from the then-president's speech the day before; four years later, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad triggered a walkout by suggesting that the U.S. government orchestrated the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. And in the depths of the Cold War, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev menacingly waved a shoe at the assembled diplomats.

One reason they could get away with it: Under treaty, the United Nations' 18-acre headquarters in New York City is considered international territory, belonging not to the United States but to U.N.'s 193 member nations.

In his interview on Savage Nation, Cain said he while he has no plans to pull the United States out of the U.N., he would institute an "attitude adjustment" in the 65-year-old international body.

Earlier in the day, the embattled Republican frontrunner refused to apologize for his joking exchange with a supporter about Anita Hill, the law professor who nearly derailed Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas's nomination to the high court with allegations of sexual harassment. "I found the comment from one of the attendees to be hilarious," Cain told Cavuto, "My response was 'is she going to endorse me?' That was funny because I would never in my wildest dreams expect her to endorse me."

In an interview with Neil Cavuto on Fox News, Cain continued to downplay charges of sexual harassment that have been leveled against him. He continued to finger the campaign of Republican presidential rival Rick Perry as a possible source of the Politico story about former female subordinates' complaints of inappropriate behavior when Cain headed the National Restaurant Association in the mid-1990s. Perry has denied that his campaign planted the story and said he would fire any staffer who did. But, Cain while Cain stopped short of accusing the campaign of the leak, he said that there were "too many coincidences," for him to buy the denial, noting that two former aides who were familiar with the negotiations now are working to elect Perry.

Cain brushed off suggestions that the lawyer he retained, L. Lin Wood, is trying to intimidate potential witnesses against him by warning accusers to "think twice" before coming forward. "It was not a threat; it was putting people on notice," said Cain. The candidate said that his wife, Gloria, came up with the strategy.

After saying earlier this week that he would take a lie detector test to prove his innocence, Cain told Cavuto he will do so only if his accusers do as well. "When somebody comes forward and they have a claim against me and they are willing to take a lie detector test, I'll take a lie detector test," he said.

The former restaurant executive attributed his evolving account of how much he remembered of the allegations against him during the first 24 hours after the Politico story broke to a faulty memory. But Cain also told Cavuto that at the start of his presidential campaign he had briefed his staff on the allegations when they did pre-emptive opposition research on him.

  • Walt Cronkite

Comments