By Geneva Sands - 10/27/11 01:53 PM EDT
Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain said there was no hidden message in a campaign Web video that featured a close-up of his chief of staff smoking.
The ad, which features Mark Block touting Cain's candidacy, exploded on blogs and in the media this week for its attention-grabbing shot of Block taking a drag on a cigarette.
"We have a saying in my campaign … let Herman be Herman. This is the attitude that I have when I do debates. This is the attitude I have when I do interviews — let Herman be Herman. Mark Block is my chief of staff and we also say let Mark be Mark," Cain said Wednesday on Fox News Channel's "Hannity."
Cain, the former Godfather's Pizza CEO, said Block is a smoker, and while he knows it is a "bad habit," it's a part of who he is as a person.
"Many of us found it hilarious because we know Mark Block, so there was no hidden message there," Cain said.
The GOP presidential hopeful told Fox News that his campaign was under pressure to put out a new Web ad while in Las Vegas, when the video was produced.
Cain said he trusted Block's judgement and still does following the video's release.
Cain has been an advocate for the cigarette industry in the past. The New York Times reported Saturday that as president of the National Restaurant Association, Cain allied himself with cigarette makers that were fighting restaurant smoking bans.
Prior to joining the Cain campaign, Block served as Wisconsin state director for the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, a group that has advocated against state smoking bans.
To watch the full ad featuring Cain's chief of staff, click here.