The Woodlands, Texas (CNN) – Republican presidential contender Herman Cain emerged from an especially tame debate with Newt Gingrich late Saturday and attempted to end the controversy surrounding him.
Facing questions about the sexual harassment allegations against him, Cain was defiant: scolding reporters, picking which of their questions he would answer, and - at one point - entirely shutting down a reporter's query.
"Don't even go there," Cain told the questioner who'd asked about the allegations.
"Can I ask my question?" the reporter said.
"No," Cain responded. "Where's my chief of staff? Please send him the journalistic code of ethics."
The tense back-and-forth happened during a news conference moments after Cain and Gingrich appeared on stage together. Their event was billed as a debate on entitlement spending, but was marked with so much congeniality between the two that it turned out to be more of a friendly discussion.
It took place in The Woodlands, Texas, was sponsored by the Texas Patriot PAC - a tea party group - and featured Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa as one of two men teeing up questions on Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare for the candidates.
At the news conference, Cain fielded questions that were to his liking, before and after batting away the first one regarding the harassment allegations.
For example, after shutting down the reporter's query, Cain pointed to one man who'd previously identified himself as a Cain "fan" and asked: "You want to ask another good question?"
"Yes," the man said, asking Cain if he would try to "legislate from the Oval Office like Mr. Obama."
"That is a good question," Cain began his response.
Moments later, reporters again pressed the candidate.
"Mr. Cain - do you think you can just not answer questions about the sexual harassment claims?" one journalist said.
"Are you never going to answer questions about this ever again, Mr. Cain?" another asked.
Cain, sitting at a table, pushed back from it and began to walk toward the door. But he stopped short.
"If you all just listen, for 30 seconds - I will explain this one time ... I was going to do something that my staff told me not to do and try to respond," Cain said.
He continued: "What I'm saying is this - we are getting back on message, end of story. Back on message. Read all of the other accounts, where everything has been answered - end of story."
Cain has denied allegations, first reported in Politico, that he sexually harassed two women in the 1990's as head of the National Restaurant Association. On Friday, a lawyer for one of the women released a statement saying she stood by her claims against Cain, but declined to reveal her identity.
Cain's post-debate scolding followed similarly harsh comments he'd made against the press in the debate itself.
Gingrich asked Cain to name the biggest surprise he'd seen since running for president.
"The nitpickiness of the media," Cain said, eliciting a standing ovation from the largely friendly crowd.
"There are too many people in the media that are downright dishonest. Not all. But too many of them doing a disservice," Cain continued.
The majority of the debate centered on their ideas for reforming Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare. The 90-minute, freewheeling discussion was billed as a modern-day Lincoln-Douglas debate.
In 1858, Republican Abraham Lincoln and incumbent Illinois Sen. Stephen Douglas held seven such political face-offs, with Douglas ultimately retaining his senate seat.
In the Cain versus Gingrich match up, both men laid out their ideas - but frequently complimented each other or nodded approval when the other was speaking.
They also spoke highly of other Republicans. When the topic turned to the controversial plan to overhaul Medicare, proposed by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, Cain said he "loved" the plan.
Cain also stressed a patient-centric, market-driven approach to the nation's health care spending problems; reiterated his support for personal retirement accounts for a younger generation who might otherwise turn to Social Security; and praised the idea of Medicaid block grants to states to "as a way to begin to get these costs under control."
As for Gingrich, he also praised Ryan's plan to overhaul Medicare; blasted any entitlement payments to "crooks;" and advised that serious health reform would require the abolishment of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
At one point, Gingrich even compared the president to one of the most notorious white-collar criminals in modern times.
"This president is about as candid and accurate as Bernie Madoff in what he tells the American people," Gingrich said.
- Follow Shannon Travis on Twitter: @ShanTravisCNN
Uncle Ben Cain will be running away from reporters like Sharon Angle soon. Looks like he punked out Saturday.
Uncle Ben Cain and the Lizard clapping about taking away Grandma's Medicare while Newt is polling at 1%.
What the Tea Party and these bozos in this fake debate don't get is that you can surround yourself with "fans" but when the vast majority of the public think you are nuts – as does the public with regard to the tea party – you might as well be smoking crack and dreaming about higher office. You'll never get there because you are constantly alienating 75% of the us public. So, the tea party can't add. They think they live in this universe of agreement, but they are going to get a rude awakening when either Romney or Obama is elected. Cain will never be president. Ever. Nor Gingrinch. Nor perry. They are jokes and paradise of themselves.
The tea party is the reason obama will get reelected wit 10% unemployment. That is a fact. It will happen. They and their isolationist selves are to blame. Their puny little mids. Their hatred of immigrants, liberals, media, lawyers, OWS, foreigners, the French, the Germans, the Russians, china, unions, teachers... They hate everyone outside of their tiny little bubble that will soon POP!
I'm sorry Mr. Cain but the msm will not allow this 'story' to go away. There is no who, what, when or where but those standards left journalism long ago. You are a political candidate, and a black male at that, who dares to not accept the offer to serve in the main house and toe the line. Little billy clinton can receive oral gratification while on the phone committing American troops to harm's way. That will be shrugged off. There can be cronyism and corruption, on a scale that would make a greedy chicago thug politico blush, under obama and the msm will nod and wink. You must understand...you do not dance to the 'correct' tune. So you will be ridiculed, attacked and destroyed. They can not allow you to make it. Think what would happen if democrats, in paticular black democrats, started to think for themselves and voted for their true self-interests. The power elite would no longer hold the strings. They will not allow that.
This is one of the most arrogant candidates in a profession marked by arrogance. Had he been honest from the start, the story would have grown old, but he forgot or never knew that he is NOT the boss as a politician. You can't "fire" the people just because they don't lick your boots. Cain needs to be sent to the trash heap, but the tiny-brained on the right will continue to push him to the front to "prove" they aren't as racist as their actions say.
Cain and Gingrich = End of Story...they both need to give it up and go home. Neither one is qualified for the office of POTUS.
Great Job....Good Forum....and Good Form!!!
This president is about as candid and accurate as Bernie Madoff in what he tells the American people," Gingrich said.
This candidate is about as candid and accurate as Charlie Sheen in what he tells his women.
End of story Hermie? Don't bet the pizza on it.
Americans don't be fooled by Cain. He is running simply to pull GOP and independent voters away for voting against Obama. They are together up to their eyeballs. Watch for Cain to receive a very good diplomatic job from Obama once he is reelected. This is just another one of Obama's scams, the fraud. Americans are so stupid to trust this man.
I remember our media attacking Paula Jones. Our media was quick to defend Anita Hill. Our media ignored the John Edwards affair. But when the role is reversed, our media is not stop coverage. Bill Clinton survived, even though Paula Jones came foreward. Now we see a woman who wont come foreward, and she wont say what happened. If anything.
Sorry Hermie, if you want to be leader of the free world, you can't duck reporter's questions about your ability and trustworthiness to lead. Your campaign is over. Bye-bye.
What is he trying to hide?
Ron Paul........simple as that.
I guarantee that the Obama administration has not been pushing the harassment issue. They would love to run against Cain. He'd be a great used car salesman but he would make a terrible President.
This guy thinks he can order the press around like he did his Pizza flippers! Just what we need in a president, a corporate dictator. Obama in 2012!!!!!
And there it is! No story here! This woman hires an attorney the day after this comes out, he runs to every news organization that will listen, claims he's lieing, but refuses to go public herself! Pretty hard to defend against that!
My brother-in-laws ex-wifes cousins best freinds sister says Obama used to do cocaine and party with a domestic terrorist from his neighborhood! Where's the headlines?
It is refreshing to see a candidate of any party stand up to the media. Sometimes enough is enough. I remember Clinton and Jennifer Flowers and thought the same thing. If you don't have anything new, then quit keeping the pot stirred with "no-news". Good for you Mr. Cain. You certainly are not the typical "politician" and I love it.
THIS story instead of writing about the "debate"? Haha.... CNN, you can't help it can you?
As his numbers drop and the voters wonder why he is in denial he will have to come clean! already 53% of republicans believe that the allegations are true can you imagine what we in the middle and left believe?
the guy is as quilty as sin for 3 people to come forward this is not the guy that i want in the white house
Getting a little warm in the kitchen there Cain?
This cain just became another freak who only answers what he wants. Sort of like crazy woman angle and the flake and the one from AK.
Give it up cain. Your numbers might be up (wink) and your money is still coming in strong (wink, wink) but you are not going to be their chosen one (wink, wink, wink).
Spiro Agnew lives.
Put a fork in these two perverts.
They are done.......