Will Accusations of Sexual Harassment Derail the Cain Train?

Bookmark and Share  Late Sunday, Politico released a bombshell alleging that back in the 1990’s when Herman Cain served as head of the National Restaurant Association, the association resolved two accusations of sexual harassment against Herman Cain by settling out of court with signed agreements that gave the female accusers financial payouts and prohibited them from ever publicly discussing the matter.

According to the Politico exclusive, the accusations has been under investigation by them and questioning the Cain campaign about them for ten days.  In that time, Cain’s campaign refused to answer any any questions regarding the matter.  However; claiming  that they have numerous sources confirming the identity of the women involved as well as the accusations and the settlements reached by the National Restaurant Association, Politico felt confident enough to run with the story.

While it is usually true  that where there is smoke, there is fire, the major problem here is that all the sources referred to in the charges made by Poitico, are unnamed.  Such publicly anonymous, and unaccountable sources do not yet allow for any credible conclusions to be reached, especially in matters of politics, where ulterior motives constantly cause political players to find creative new ways to assassinate the character of  their rivals.

At the same time, upon the release of the Politico hit piece, the Cain campaign has been unable to prepare itself for what is undoubtedly going to be a tidal wave of negative press.  Instead of offering initial remarks that effectively responded to the charges, with the help of campaign spokesman J.D. Gordon, the Cain camp instead grabbed an anchor that was sure to drag them under.  

In a live interview with Geraldo Rivera on Fox News, shortly after the story broke, Gordon never answered repeated to deny that Mr. Cain has never been accused of sexual harassment.  Instead he finally stated that he would have to get that information from the National Restaurant Association.

On more than 6 occasions in a matter of moments, Rivera pressed the Cain spokesman and asked him if could deny the charges are true and on each occasion, instead of directly responding to the question, Gordon ran with a storyline that painted those behind the story as being part of the political opposition that wants to see Herman Cain fail.  At one point, Gordon claimed that the charges were just another example of liberals trying to impune the integrity and character of a leading conservative figure.

Soon after that damning interview, Cain’s campaign told Associated Press that the allegations were not true, and amounted to unfair attacks.

“Inside-the-Beltway media have begun to launch unsubstantiated personal attacks on Cain,” spokesman J.D. Gordon said in a written statement. “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 rumors that never stood up to the facts.

Following that statement, J.D. Gordon was finally to answer “Yes” when asked if the campaign was denying the report.

While I am not readyto draw any conclusions from accusations made by unnamed, third party sources regarding the charges leveled by two unnamed litigants, it is safe to say that the Cain campaign has two major challenges ahead at the moment.  First is to put the story to rest by prompting the National Restaurant Association to release a statement confirming the campaign’s claim that the story is not true.  The second challenge is for Herman Cain and his campaign to demonstrate that they are both prepared to master the world of real politics.

While Cain’s outsider image and his lack of history as a politician is appealing to many voters, Cain’s inability to deal with the reality politics may make it impossible for him to survive in that world.   If this story is not true, Cain’s team must now be able to mobilize damage control and turn it in to a tool to use to his advantage.  Hillary Clinton helped change the storyline of her husband’s scandal with Monica Lewinsky when she invented the “right-wing conspiracy ” theory.   But first thing is first.  Will the National Restaurant Association behind to confirm Cain’s denial of the charges?  If they don’t, it will only be because they can’t and if they can’t, it will only be because they did in fact reach a settlement with the two woman whom Politico claims are behind the accusations of sexual harassment.

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