By Alicia M. Cohn - 11/27/11 03:26 PM EST
Herman Cain on Sunday advocated implementing a process of "targeted identification" to increase airport security, denying that his proposal has similarities to the controversial nature of profiling.
"It is different from profiling, because profiling has been used in a very negative way," he said on CNN's "State of the Union." "Targeted identification is a deliberate approach to figure out patterns associated with people who have tried to kill us. Profiling has been used in a lot of other situations, and it obscures the whole issue."
In the GOP debate last week co-sponsored by CNN, Cain advocated "targeted identification" as one way to heighten airport security and solve many of the challenges facing the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
Cain refused to be drawn into what he called "the rhetoric" when asked for specifics by CNN’s Candy Crowley.
He had a similar response when asked about the failed deficit-reduction supercommittee. Cain called arguments over the Bush-era payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits "distractions" from the bigger problem of a "lack of effective economic policy."
He said he would not support extending unemployment benefits but allowed that he "could" support extending the payroll tax cut, which is set to expire at the end of the year.
"We're spending money we do not have. It's unfortunate that people are unemployed," he said, adding: "This economy is not producing the jobs in order to get the about 14 million people who are unemployed back to work."
Cain's campaign is scrambling to recover from the resurfacing of sexual harassment allegations dating from the mid-90s, as well as several apparent stumbles when asked about foreign policy and his abortion stance.
Cain denied making mistakes, saying "confusion has been generated" by taking interviews out of context.
In the most recent CNN/ORC national poll, Cain won 17 percent of the vote, falling behind frontrunners Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.
Cain blamed "false accusations and confusion about some of my positions" for his falling status in the polls, but said everything is running smoothly within his campaign.
"Some people are more heavily influenced by perception rather than reality," he said.