Cain scolds reporters: 'End of story' to sexual harassment claims
November 6th, 2011
04:58 AM ET
2 years ago

Cain scolds reporters: 'End of story' to sexual harassment claims

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


Filed under: 2012 • Herman Cain • Newt Gingrich
soundoff (339 Responses)
  1. Gemini Girl

    Keith in Austin: what we are saying is not racism! This has nothing to do with race! And to Richard-Missouri: sorry but the press is rightly doing its job. The two women who received a year's pay each are now working in high-level positions, one in DC and one in NJ. The other 4 women (that's right, 4) didn't work for the same lobbyist company, NRA, that Crazy-Cain worked for. I hope that all SIX women get to have their say. Two of them would have to be released from their confidentiality agreements that they signed with NRA, otherwise, they can't say anything without getting sued. Cain is counting on them to stay quiet; sorry Cain, you started this but you're not going to end it!

    November 6, 2011 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  2. carla

    A few thoughts. We don't need to be using the term "uncle Tom"
    I think a news boycott is in order for Mr. Cain
    999 is funny
    I don't blame the women for not coming forward. Their lives would be ruined by Cain's attack and why should they be victims of Cain again.
    This debate was a sham. Hug hug, kiss kiss
    If Cain would have just said, "yes, there was a settlement (agreement), whatever, but I can't discuss it because of the gag order on it", this would be over. He stumbled, lied, back peddled, and made himself look like a fool.

    November 6, 2011 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  3. Breckstone

    Cain, the truth shall set you free! "Please send him the journalistic code of ethics?" What the heck is that all about? Feeling guilty? I would say so. Go back to your Pizza pies buddy, running a country is far more complicated than shouting at people to use less cheese to maximize profit. 9-9-9 is more like an upside-down 666.

    November 6, 2011 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  4. Busted

    And this is what republicans mean when they preach about personal responsibility

    November 6, 2011 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  5. normalice

    this just adds to my bafflement over common people turning to republicans for help. I literally could think of no reason other than racism, but then Cain becomes popular, and he's also black. Now I have NO idea what drives people to vote republican.

    Is it just that they are unified and have a goal? Does no one mind that the goal is destructive? That's cool with everyone? alright. I guess watching things explode is better than watching nothing at all, for some people. Sure.

    November 6, 2011 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  6. the Marketizer

    "...Cain also stressed a patient-centric, market-driven " approach to health care. Yep, the insurance and pharma industrieswill focus on the patient and fleece our pockets in true corporate fashion. No government oversight, just cut throat capitalist greed. I feel so much better already.

    Cain, you are lost in delusion. Your entire campain effort is.

    November 6, 2011 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  7. Darla (Edmonton, Canada)

    Mr. Cain ... Any woman, who has been harassed in the past or is being harassed right now, is going to remember your words and your actions in this matter. Any man, whose mother, wife or daughter has been harassed, is going to remember your words and your actions in this matter. They will let local, state and national Republican committees know that they blew their chances with the voters when NONE of them stepped up and spoke out against harassment and the actions of men like you, Mr. Cain.

    November 6, 2011 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  8. Christopher

    The fact that this gut is even being taken seriously is the saddest commentary on the decline of intelligence in America today. Sadly, there are people in this country on the left and the right who would proudly vote for a cow-pie if someone told them that it was a "conservative" cow-pie or a "liberal" cow-pie. And they would be proud of themselves for doing so.

    November 6, 2011 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  9. Jack in Florida

    Oh Herman, Herman, Herman......haven't you figured out yet that it is over when the media feels there is no more to the story. You are in way over your head. Get out before you embarrass yourself even further.

    November 6, 2011 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  10. AHamilton

    The reporters should just completely ignore Mr. Cain. See how much he dislikes the media when there is no reporting of his presidential run.

    November 6, 2011 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  11. JJ

    Cain was the flavor of the month. Unfortunately for him, the month is up. He's not qualified to be president and THAT is the true "end of story."

    November 6, 2011 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  12. CAlif

    I think the best comparison may be to our esteemed former governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. (As you will recall, he's a white guy!) As with Cain, he was accused of harassment AND he was a guy from the private sector ho didn't have the skill set for the job of being governor. At the time Arnold was initially elected, the harassment story was brought up and he denied it or said it was a he said/she said argument. The majority of the electorate believed him. Does anyone doubt his lack of a moral compass now, especially with regard to womenr? Does anyone think he did a good job as governor? The answer to both is a resounding "NO"!

    November 6, 2011 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  13. Thats All Folks

    This is a press conference! The last thing I want to do is answer questions!

    November 6, 2011 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  14. ThinkAgain

    @medianone: "This a part of the bigger plan. A needed side show to distract for as long as possible from the crucial issues. Thirteen months is a long time to put out solutions and let them be analyzed by the public. If you don't have any game plan that will stand the scrutiny it is best to get the public looking and talking about something else."

    The GOP strategy revealed! It's all the GOP can do: no record of accomplishment and only economic, military and foreign policies that are PROVEN FAILURES.

    November 6, 2011 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  15. CBR

    This whole circus can be blamed on the media but also on Herman Cain himself. Instead of pretending it never happened he might want to say the charge was made but he was exonerated. Because he did not speak calmly and effectively, the press picked up on his anger and maybe they did not believe his explanation. Once a candidate gets fired up, the press gets equally fired up and digs into the story until either the truth unfolds or the candidate quits.

    Herman Cain needs to deal with this calmly, make a truthful statement and then let it go. Obviously a charge was made what is missing is the true outcome.

    November 6, 2011 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  16. david

    This is like a slow-motion train wreck. I pity the insurance company insuring this train. People support his bozo? wow...

    November 6, 2011 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  17. Annie, Atlanta

    Fred Astaire, I don't know what kind of media you watch, but Edwards was all over the news stations I watch. This is just right wing nonsense, and frankly this country doesn't need any more nonsense. We just need facts, pure and simple. Propaganda, and that's all your statement is, has no use in a democracy.

    November 6, 2011 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  18. jt@hotmail.com

    Brother Herman, if ya can't stand the heat, get otta the kitchen!

    November 6, 2011 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  19. AgrippaMT

    Time to get out of the kitchen, Herman. You've more than adequately proven your total lack of qualification for the Presidency. Bye!

    November 6, 2011 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  20. lynn

    why not tell the truth , i know its not in vouge these days. but tell the truth from front to back and let the people decide. be differant from everyone else.

    November 6, 2011 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  21. no1atall

    While there may be some dispute from the right about the harassment issue, one thing happened that cannot be disputed: Cain PLAYED THE 'RACE CARD', now didn't he? Didn't seem to bother the right wing much either.

    November 6, 2011 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  22. ChuckB

    The media has recourse. Stop giving him free advertisements by not asking him any questions. Make him pay for coverage.

    November 6, 2011 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  23. larvadog

    This story will be Cain's downfall. Not necessarily because he did anything wrong (I don't know if he did or not) but because of the way he is dealing with it. Few politicans can survive these kinds of allegations, especially after pi$$ing off the press and giving the appearance of avoiding the issue. No matter how many times Cain answers questions, he's not done answering them until the press says he is.

    November 6, 2011 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  24. Doug

    Cain is no qualified for President but Obama was? A public sector leech is, a man who came from nothing and defines the American dream through his hard work and determination isn't? Cain is given more jobs to people in 1 year than Obama has his whole life, that says it all.

    November 6, 2011 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  25. vivian m.

    Cain has out an end to the questions, which of course, if the end of his campaign. Oh, Republicans, what a breed! They got lots of money, though. So it don't matter that they have no souls left, they can buy their piousness!

    November 6, 2011 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
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