Cain: I was just joking about Kissinger

at 05:16 PM ET, 11/15/2011

Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain says he was kidding when he said he had asked Henry Kissinger to serve as his secretary of state in a hypothetical Cain administration.

“Dr. Kissinger turned my offer down to be secretary of state,” Cain told the Milwaulkee-Journal Sentinel’s editorial board in a video clip published Monday. “He said he’s perfectly happy doing what he’s doing.”

Cain spokesman J.D. Gordon earlier told reporters that Cain was joking and had not asked Kissinger to serve in his administration. On the campaign trail in Iowa on Tuesday, Cain avoided questions about Kissinger on Tuesday; that is, until he was told that his campaign had said he was joking about the offer of the plum cabinet job to the former secretary of state.

“Dr. Kissinger has retired and I respect that,” Cain told The Fix from Iowa. “I was not serious about asking him, I know he's retired, but I was serious about seeking his counsel, and he was nice enough to say that I could seek his counsel some more. Which I treasure."

Watching the video, it’s hard to tell whether or not Cain was attempting to be humorous, although he did smile and there was laughter in the room.

Kissinger served as secretary of state under Presidents Nixon and Ford. He did have breakfast with Cain in New York about two weeks ago. The candidate’s chief of staff, Mark Block, told Fox News recently that during the meeting, “Dr. Kissinger turned to me and said, ‘you’re that cigarette guy. That was brilliant.’”

Cain said today of the meeting: “I just appreciate that he's kind enough to give me his perspective on the Middle East and a lot of these other countries around the world. He was like a wise sage, giving me a lot of perspectives about how you go about dealing with these issues."

Cain said at a September debate that he “would bring a sense of humor to the White House. America's too uptight!"

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