Accomplished and controversial former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is known as a practitioner of realpolitik, but GOP contender Herman Cain says his offer to give him his old job back was a nothing more than a real joke.
“Dr. Kissinger turned my offer down to be secretary of state,” Cain, who met Kissinger earlier this month for breakfast and a rapid tutorial on foreign policy, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in an interview posted to the paper’s web site on Tuesday. “He said he’s perfectly happy doing what he’s doing.”
When asked by reporters later Tuesday if he had really offered Kissinger a job, Cain denied it and said he was only kidding.”
“Dr. Kissinger has retired and I respect that,” Cain said. “I just appreciate the fact that he was kind enough to spend some time and give me his perspective on the Middle East and a lot of these other countries around the world. So he was like a wise sage, you know, giving me a lot of perspectives about how to go about dealing with these issues. Which is, that’s something that I’ve talked about.”
Cain said he was only “teasing” about offering Kissinger, 88, who served under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, a job in his cabinet were he to win the nomination and the general election.
“Yes I was teasing. I was not serious about asking him because 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 in the future, which I treasure dearly,” Cain said.
After the Kissinger meeting, Cain’s campaign manager Mark Block told the National Review that Kissinger complimented a web video in which Block is seen smoking a cigarette. The ad became a viral internet sensation.
“Halfway through Mr. Cain’s conversation, Doctor Kissinger turns and points to me and says, ‘That smoking thing you did was brilliant.’ I sat there thinking, Dr. Henry Kissinger just said something I did was brilliant,” Block said. “We all got a good chuckle.”
Cain also named Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C. and former Ambassador John Bolton as people he would appoint to his dream cabinet.
But he said the people closest to a President Cain would be businesspeople with private sector experience.
“My administration will have a majority of businesspeople along with some seasoned officeholders who will not be afraid to challenge the status quo,” he said.