Sharon Bialek, accompanied by the celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred, became the first woman to publicly accuse the presidential candidate of sexual harassment, saying that she wants to “give a voice” to other women who might have been harassed by Mr. Cain during his tenure at the association.
“I want you, Mr. Cain, to come clean,” Ms. Bialek, who said she was a Republican, told a packed news conference in New York City’s Friar Club. “Just admit what you did. Admit you were inappropriate to people, and then move forward.”
In a statement issued moments after the news conference started, Mr. Cain emphatically denied the accusation…
[S]he said Mr. Cain had secretly upgraded her hotel room before drinks and dinner that the two had to discuss possible future employment. She said that after dinner, he put his hand on her leg and ran it under her skirt and pulled her head toward his crotch.
“I was surprised and shocked and I said, what are you doing? You know I have a boyfriend,” Ms. Bialek recalled saying. “This is not what I came here for.”
“You want a job, right?” she said Mr. Cain responded…
Herman Cain responds:
“Activist celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred is bringing forth more false accusations against the character of Republican front-runner Herman Cain,” the statement said. “All allegations of harassment against Mr. Cain are completely false. Mr. Cain has never harassed anyone. Fortunately the American people will not allow Mr. Cain’s bold ‘9-9-9 Plan’, clear foreign policy vision and plans for energy independence to be overshadowed by these bogus attacks.”
But does it matter? Los Angeles Times:
A new USA Today/Gallup survey shows Cain tied with Mitt Romney at 21% among a nationwide sample of Republican and Republican-leaning voters, an increase of 3% for Cain over the previous month’s survey. It’s also the sixth major public poll in a month showing Cain leading or statistically tied with Romney atop the GOP field.
Gallup found that 53% of Republicans believed the charges against Cain were untrue; 35% thought they were. Half of those surveyed said they were following the news of the allegations, initially attributed by Politico to unnamed women who worked for Cain when he lead the National Restaurant Association, very or somewhat closely. Slightly fewer — 45% — said he was doing a good job of responding to the claims.
“Cain thus appears to have largely survived the storm of news coverage of the sexual harassment charges for the time being,” Gallup’s Frank Newport writes, though he added it could change as a fourth accuser has come forward publicly with new claims of inappropriate conduct by Cain.
As the accusations of sexual harassment have grown around unlikely GOP presidential frontrunner Herman Cain, we’ve been genuinely surprised that his standing in GOP primary polls has improved, not declined, since the allegations surfaced. We still think that this story has everything needed to put Cain’s candidacy to bed, but–at least in the first few rounds of coverage–it hasn’t really made a difference, and has even provoked a sympathetic reaction from the conservative base. Within that we see a segment of the voting public who truly has been taught to ignore, or at least be skeptical of beyond rational justification, mainstream news.
Is it a saturation point for this kind of scandal? Can the same outrage that had people on both sides calling for Anthony Weiner’s resignation–or Bill Clinton’s–be turned off like a switch? Can a message machine be so good that one can wield double standards with total impunity?
It’s kind of a bigger question than Herman Cain.