It didn't take long for Herman Cain to show just how completely he ignored Riptide's advice to study up on Cuban policy before parachuting into Versailles this afternoon. While being swarmed by citizens and journalists on Calle Ocho, Cain made it abundantly clear he had simply never heard of "wet foot, dry foot" -- the nation's defining Cuban immigration policy for more than a decade.
The GOP frontrunner also learned only enough Spanish to repeatedly yell, "Nueve! Nueve! Nueve!" to pimp his health-care plan and mangled the name of the Cuban restaurant, coming out with something like "Ver-sayles." At least no one asked him to name the president of Uzbekistan!
Update: There's video of the flub! Click through.
Via the Miami Herald's Marc Caputo, who will surely be attacked across the conservative blogosphere today for asking a "gotcha" question about the most basic tenet of Cuban-U.S. immigration policy:
As you can see in the video, Caputo was the first to ask Cain about the "wet foot, dry foot" policy (which says that Cubans, in general, can stay in the United States if they make it to dry land, while those caught at sea are returned) during his earlier stop in Sweetwater. He was met with a confused "Wet foot, dry foot?" from Cain.
Caputo later tweeted that another reporter at Versailles repeated the question, and Cain "refuses [to] answer," with staff promising he'd address the question later. Michael Putney's queries were also met with silence. Moments later, Caputo tweeted that Cain's staff changed their mind.
At Versailles, Cain's Spanish was a bit of a setback for him, because he didn't know any, as you can see in this delightful video where Cain chomps on a croqueta and then asks, "How do you say 'delicious' in Cuban?"
After munching on a croqueta and sipping a cafecito, he gave a standard, ten-minute English-language stump speech on his 9-9-9 tax plan.
He was about to walk offstage when Ignacio Ortiz-Petit, a board member of the Arts and Minds Charter School in Coconut Grove, motioned for Cain to continue, this time using Ortiz as a translator.
Meanwhile, pandemonium raged inside the restaurant among the media clusterfuck trying to catch the Republican.
One of the crazier moments came when he was in the bakery, surrounded by bodyguards, cops, and media. A woman in the fracas shoved a Channel 7 reporter against the counter, screaming at him and the crowd to stop pushing.
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Despite Cain's obvious flubs on foreign policy -- just the latest in a long week of trip-ups on the subject -- his fans on Calle Ocho stood behind the candidate.
Roger Gonzales, a 33-year-old Miami native, says he doesn't really care how much Cain knows about Cuba -- he just thinks he's the best candidate out there.
"I'd hate to say this as a Cuban-American, but I think Mexico is the bigger priority right now because of the drugs and violence spilling over the border," Gonzales says.