Monday, October 31, 2011

Herman Cain Sexual Harassment Scandal Upends GOP Presidential Race

I'm just now getting back on the grid, and Herman Cain's story seems to be going through some transformations. Here's the short version of Cain's denial of the allegations on Fox News this morning:

I listened to the longer version this morning at Hot Air, "Cain: “I was falsely accused” of sexual harassment at trade group." Cain sounded completely confident and he gave a flat-out denial.

Except, was it the truth? Maybe there's some shading going on and the story's basically the same. The update's at Hot Air, "Revealed: Cain describes hand gesture that led to harassment claim; Update: Small settlement, says Cain." Check that post. One of those interviewed in the original Politico report is no longer taking questions. I'm still learning on this, but The Other McCain has huge roundup, "Herman Cain at the National Press Club." And here's video of Cain's statement at the Press Club:

Time has that, "Facing a Media Scrum, Cain Boisterously Denies Harassment Allegations":
Ever since he began topping presidential polls, the media has been drafting pieces of Cain’s political obituary: unpacking his campaign’s organizational woes, his tortured answers to questions on abortion and foreign policy, his puzzling scheduling strategy. Now they wanted to witness the last breaths. But the candidate showed up boisterous and smiling, and after skating through a stump speech laden with humor and light on policy, Cain mopped a patina of sweat from his brow and stepped to the lecturn to face his questioners. “I would be delighted to clear the air,” he said.

“Number one, in all of my over 40 years of business experience … I have never sexually harassed anyone,” Cain announced. “Number two, while at the restaurant association, I was accused of sexual harassment. Falsely accused, I might add. I was falsely accused of sexual harassment, and when the charges were brought, as the leader of the organization, I recused myself and allowed my general counsel and my human resource officer to deal with the situation. And it was concluded after a thorough investigation that it had no basis.

“As far as a settlement,” Cain continued, “I am unaware of any sort of settlement. I hope it wasn’t for much, because I didn’t do anything.” He declined to speculate whether the source of the Politico article cataloging the allegations was an opposition leak, called the kerfuffle “a witch hunt,” and suggested there was nothing further to pursue.
And now back to Politico for the latest, "Cain acknowledges settlement details."

I don't expect too much damage to Cain's candidacy, barring any 11th hour revelations. What's troubling is the changing story line, which makes Cain looks amateurish if not inept. His demeanor is vigorous in responding, fortunately, but these late acknowledgements raise questions of veracity.

An upside is that Cain's getting a lot of "earned" media (which really unearned, in a sense) which may have the salutary effect of bolstering Cain's rise in the polls, especially if regular folks agree that these are specious allegations amounting to an opportunistic witch hunt, as Cain suggests.

Here's the latest Memeorandum link. I'll have more later.

Added: From Jennifer Rubin, "Cain gets tripped up on the facts: Will this kill the campaign?:
The error Cain made was in not getting the entire story out early, completely and truthfully. He left the day with voters and the media more confused than ever.

This may not be the end of the Cain campaign, but it will take a toll. The never-ending stories here suggest Cain hasn’t been honest with the public. That’s going to be harder to explain than the original allegations.
He should be okay if that's the end of the allegations. But if more facts come out that Cain hedged or denies, well, it's not going to be pretty.