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Allegations of Sexual Harassment Threaten to Derail Herman Cain’s Bid for the Republican Nomination, the White House

Posted on the 31 October 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost
Herman Cain

Herman Cain has just been accused of sexual harassment. Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore,

Only five days after a CBS-New York Times poll placed Cain as the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, a full five percent in front of Mitt Romney, a bombshell has been dropped that could stop the maverick politician in his tracks. Yes, there are skeletons in Cain’s closet — at “least two”, actually, according to US journalism organisation Politico, which published an extensive investigation into sexual harassment claims against Cain this Sunday night. Without revealing their names, the article alleges that two women were paid off after filing complaints against Cain when he was President and CEO of the National Restaurant Association, a powerful lobbying group, from 1996-1999. The Cain camp’s spokesman J.D. Gordon told Politico’s Jonathan Martin that the allegations were “old and tired” allegations on October 20, then on Wednesday, he confirmed that Cain was “vaguely familiar” with them; then, when Martin doorstepped him outside a CBS interview, he aggressively refused to answer his questions.

Now, The Associated Press is reporting that he is denying the claims. “Inside-the-Beltway media have begun to launch unsubstantiated personal attacks on Cain”, Gordon told the news organisation. “Dredging up thinly sourced allegations stemming from Mr. Cain’s tenure as the Chief Executive Officer at the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, political trade press are now casting aspersions on his character and spreading rumours that never stood up to the facts.”

So is this the dynamite Cain’s rivals have been hoping for? Here’s what the commentariat are saying at this early stage:

Cain is ignoring the allegations. “It’s the Herman Cain Sexual Harassment ’9-9-9′ Plan: Stick your fingers in your ears and say ‘ninenineninenineninenine’ until the nosy reporter goes away”, conjectured Gawker, referring to Cain’s much satired “9-9-9” tax plan. Poiltico‘s Alexander Burns noted that he didn’t “deny” the report and that the right-leaning women’s group Concerned Women for America “wants answers” from Cain.

Cain’s response has not helped. Through the lens of this story, we’ve seen Cain weakened on “two levels” — the first, that he “allegedly handled professional relationships with two women in such a way as to prompt complaints of sexual harassment” and the second, that he handled the media fallout so badly, adjudged Eric Wemple, blogging for The Washington Post. He noted that Gordon’s claim that the article is “thinly sourced” is ridiculous, considering that the Cain camp had already confirmed that the allegations exist and that Cain is the only on the record source in the piece. Wemple pointed out that Newt Gingrich may be the one that benefits from Cain’s downfall.

What’s Cain’s move? Cain is set to speak to at the American Enterprise Institute (9:00 am ET) and the National Press Club (1pm ET) — watch it on C-Span.

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