Explaining away a column he wrote five years ago promoting golf star Tiger Woods as a presidential candidate in 2016, Cain again argued, "Americans got to learn how to have a sense of humor."
"There are some things that, you know, you just take kind of tongue-in-cheek, and you don't make a big deal of it. All right?" he told reporters last month about how he came to write the column.
Cain, the only black candidate in the Republican field, often makes light of that distinction on the campaign trail.
Asked if his rising poll numbers meant his candidacy was the flavor of the month, Cain compared himself to Haagen-Dazs black walnut ice cream, which he said "tastes good all the time." He said he likes to wear a gold tie because "it looks pretty good next to this beautiful skin."
But Cain has also relied on laugh lines to paper over serious gaps in knowledge, reinforcing the impression of a candidacy that came together on the fly.
"When they ask me who is the president of Uzbeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan, I'm going to say ... I don't know," Cain joked recently in an interview, suggesting "knowing who is the head of some of these small, insignificant states around the world" wasn't important for a presidential candidate.
Associated Press researcher Barbara Sambriski contributed to this report.
Follow Beth Fouhy on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bfouhy
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