Fatigue Is Showing in Campaign Gaffes

Herman Cain is the latest to stumble publicly.

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The wear-and-tear of the presidential campaign is starting to take its toll.

Businessman Herman Cain had trouble expressing what he thinks of U.S. policy toward Libya during an interview yesterday. His halting response has gone viral online and has been repeated frequently on cable television. Cain seemed bewildered by the query, posed at a meeting with the editorial board of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and spent several minutes attempting to reply. At one point, he said there was too much "stuff twirling around in my head." Cain's aides say he hadn't been getting much sleep and was seriously fatigued. They also argue that Cain might have taken a while to get his bearings but the media and his critics are making too much of the incident.

Some supporters of Texas Gov. Rick Perry say weariness also played a part in his gaffe at last week's Republican debate when he couldn't remember that he favors abolishing the federal Department of Energy.

Succumbing to fatigue is common in politics. President Clinton, one of the savviest politicians of his generation, used to say that the worst mistakes he made in politics and government came when he was tired.

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And there won't be any break. The campaign will get even more intense in the next several weeks, with more demands on the candidates as the first nominating tests approach in January, with caucuses and primaries in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida.

It all goes to show that a presidential campaign doesn't require only large amounts of intelligence, determination and money. It also requires pure stamina.

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