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Cain meeting with Union Leader newspaper canceled

Republican presidential candidate, businessman Herman Cain smiles as he talks to reporters a a campaign stop at the Statehouse, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011, in Concord, N.H. Republican presidential candidate, businessman Herman Cain smiles as he talks to reporters a a campaign stop at the Statehouse, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011, in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
By Steve Peoples
Associated Press / November 17, 2011

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NASHUA, N.H.—Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain returned to New Hampshire on Thursday for the first time in about a month, but a disagreement over timing and videotaping led to the cancellation of a planned meeting with the state's largest newspaper.

The New Hampshire Union Leader is an influential voice among conservatives, a group whose support Cain needs to do well here in the nation's first primary on Jan. 10.

Cain's meeting with the editorial board was scrapped about an hour before it was to begin amid disagreements over timing and whether the meeting would be videotaped.

The Union Leader typically allows its meetings with presidential candidates to be filmed; Cain's campaign wouldn't allow it.

The cancellation came several days after Cain's interview with a Milwaukee newspaper, in which he appeared unsure how to answer a question about U.S. policy in Libya. That interview was videotaped and went viral after it was posted on the Internet, embarrassing Cain. It drew comparisons to rival Rick Perry's forgetful moment in a recent candidates' debate when he couldn't recall the third federal department he'd eliminate.

Cain spokesman J.D. Gordon said the Union Leader canceled because of a disagreement over timing.

"We would like to do something with them in the future," he told The Associated Press.

Cain's trip was his first to the Granite State since a GOP presidential debate about a month ago. Much has changed since then in what has been a rollercoaster race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Cain briefly shot up in the polls, but has struggled to maintain momentum following allegations of sexual misconduct and questions about his preparedness.

"The thing that we are learning is that the more successful you are in your campaign, the more disciplined you have to be because there are even more demands on your time," Cain told The Associated Press.

The Georgia businessman held just one public event in the state Thursday, an afternoon rally. He defended recent stumbles on foreign policy and said the president doesn't need to know every detail about every country.

"We need a leader, not a reader," Cain told hundreds of cheering supporters inside a Nashua hotel ballroom. Some had traveled from nearby states to see him.

Cain suggested that recent allegations of sexual misconduct by multiple women are irrelevant. He has strongly denied the charges.

"The people that are on the Cain train, they don't get off because of that crap," he said.

Cain did not address the Union Leader situation directly. He spent much of the morning conducting interviews with local TV stations at a Manchester diner.

The Union Leader interview was scheduled last week and was to last at least an hour, according to Andrew Cline, the newspaper's editorial page editor. The paper typically allows C-SPAN to broadcast its meetings with presidential contenders.

Gordon conceded that the campaign tried to change the terms of the interview.

Late Wednesday, Cain's staff said he had only 20 minutes to spare. They also refused to allow videotaping.

"For editorial boards, videos are options and we decided not to pursue that option," Gordon said. "It's a newspaper."

On Monday, Cain had trouble answering a question about the U.S. role in Libya during a meeting with the editorial board of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. That interview was taped and posted on the Internet.

Cain addressed the Milwaukee incident Thursday, telling the AP that he paused simply to gather his thoughts.

"They want people to think it was a mental lapse. If that's what they want to think, so be it. I know what it was," he said, describing it as "a powerful pause." "You can look forward to some more powerful pauses."

Gordon said he'd like to reschedule with the New Hampshire newspaper but doesn't know when Cain will return to the state.

Joseph McQuaid, publisher of the Union Leader and an influential voice in New Hampshire Republican politics, suggested the canceled interview wouldn't significantly affect Cain's presidential campaign. Despite his brief rise in the polls, Cain has few formal endorsements, staffers or campaign infrastructure in states like New Hampshire that vote early in the nominating process.

"I don't think he's going anywhere from here at this point, anyway," McQuaid told the Union Leader.