The Republican Party’s leading candidate is on the defensive after it was reported that a third woman came forward Nov. 2 alleging that GOP front-runner Herman Cain sexually harassed her.
According to a report published by The Politico Oct. 30 two women alleged that Cain engaged in inappropriate conduct while he headed the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, eventually paying each a five-figure settlement. A third woman came forward, telling the Associated Press that Cain made sexually-suggestive remarks and gestures when she worked for the organization.
The allegations of sexual harassment have been roundly denied by both Cain and his campaign since they became public, with Cain accusing the campaign of rival candidate Rick Perry of planting the allegations.
But the candidate’s responses on other questions have differed slightly since the claims became public. On Oct. 31, Cain said he was “not aware of any settlement,” according to CNN. Later, he said he was in fact aware of a separation agreement in one of the cases.
Despite the turmoil, Cain’s campaign said the controversy has solidified support behind him, saying that he has raised $1.2 million since the Politico story was published.
“The American people are starting to see through this stuff, and they are sick of gutter politics,” Cain declared in a radio interview with conservative commentator Sean Hannity, CNN reported. “This will not deter me.”
The candidate and his supporters have also suggested that Cain has been targeted because of his race. Conservative pundit Ann Coulter called the allegations an example of “high-tech lynching,” referencing the sexual harassment allegations of Anita Hill against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas during his confirmation hearings in the early 1990s.
“I’m a Black conservative, and it is causing their heads to explode,” Cain said on Hannity’s show.
When news first hit of sexual harassment allegations in “the Politico” Cain denied them the next day. A few days later he came forward and admitted he knew about the allegations but still denied touching the women in question. The women have not previously released statements due to a confidentiality agreement each woman is stated to have signed at the end of the settlement. One of the women’s lawyers, John Bennett, is seeking for his client’s statement to be released soon through the National Restaurant Association, which could mean trouble for Cain. He is already dodging questions from the press, telling them, “don’t even bother” asking about the allegations. And Cain’s camp is also pointing fingers, saying that Rick Perry’s camp had something to do with the leak of the information. With this slippery slope, however, GOP chairman Reince Priebus remains optimistic, believing that this scandal will not affect the GOP chances of beating President Obama in the race next year.