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. jack33w

    Herman Cain (and Newt Gingrich too) are being dishonest. Herman Cain claims to know nothing about this while denying it. Denying what, exactly? I mean, the woman who filed the complaint is under a stettlement agreement to not talk about it. Talk about what, exactly? If Herman Cain has nothing to fear, Hermain Cain should be willing to speak up for release of the settlement details. But no. He won't. Cain very much wants it to go away... what's he afraid of?

    November 7, 2011 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  2. coy4one

    Cain's attempts to control the media will only backfire in his face as the media will push the issue more. You don't anger the press. It's not like he's paying them like he's advertising pizza....

    November 7, 2011 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  3. Lean6

    If he got caught in a motel room smoking crack with a lady of the night, would anybody really be surprised? Sad commentary, but he's evoking memories and associations of nothing but the worst. For awhile, I even dismissed any serious thought of the Teapublicans giving this guy the nomination over Romney, but memories of Palin linger. The political system has become a mockery. The Pandora's Box the Teapublicans opened over the past 3 years, ushering in an era of constant mudslinging campaigning, and negating the powers of the president to have any impact or to do anything other than enter military conflict without the promise of a filibuster is, i'm afraid, nearly irreversible.

    November 7, 2011 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  4. PaulC

    He didn't do anything inappropriate, they only paid the women to shut up because they had too much money. Yeah, and I believe that Elvis is alive also. Can't take the heat stay out of the Oval office.

    November 7, 2011 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  5. Jeff E.

    Good for Cain. How many times does he need to answer the same questions? The media is so desperately trying to derail his campaign it's nauseating and those on the left are eating it up like Jerry Springer viewers. So the media is supposed to keep government in check but who is keeping the media in check? Who is watching the watchers?

    November 7, 2011 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  6. Don

    Herman. you are in our interviewing process now. We will tell you when the story is over so sit tight and we'll get back to you as soon as we are stisfied.

    November 7, 2011 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  7. Annatala

    Does he still not realize when you're the Presidential front-runner, you can't pick and choose which questions the media will ask you? Has he never watched an election cycle before? Everything he does only keeps this story in the news longer...it's bizarre. Either his advisers are fools, or he has no self-control.

    November 7, 2011 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  8. Anthony

    Boy, Cain is delusional. He can't tell the press to go away. If the White House tells the press to stop dig into the Solyndra matter, do you think that the press (especially the right-wing press) will comply?

    November 7, 2011 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  9. steven

    Nothing is behind the curtain, so do not look.

    November 7, 2011 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  10. Mike

    For everyone that says leave him alone, that is of course he was a democrat then they would be saying, what's the whole story, what is he hiding. Hypocrites!!!!

    November 7, 2011 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  11. Mike in SA

    So where were all you people when Anthony Weiner was telling the press to "shut up"???

    November 7, 2011 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  12. Ts

    They went after Clinton ...why does he think he should be exempt from answering questions?? He's an idiot!

    November 7, 2011 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  13. JoeT

    Tyrants and would-be tyrants know there is no scourge like a free press.

    November 7, 2011 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  14. FM

    I didn't like the way Anthony Weiner was treated, and I do not like the way Mr. 999 is treated either. If the Press is doing their work professionally, they do not need to follow Cain and shout to him with questions anywhere he goes. If the Press want to show us, are really professionals, they should dig hard and find out where the accusers (women) are, and come up with their stories. Contrary to this, I do think the Press is asking a strong punch in their faces from Mr. 999!

    November 7, 2011 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  15. K

    So what part of this code (there's more than one) did the reporter violate?

    November 7, 2011 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  16. Dee

    Yep, dishonest people in the media, and dishonest people who are presidential candidates!!!

    November 7, 2011 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  17. Brad

    @Mike in SA – He resigned because people wanted him out for not be forthcoming.... As Cain should from the race.

    November 7, 2011 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  18. Lean6

    "So what part of this code (there's more than one) did the reporter violate?" – K

    Simply speaking to the nature of the media, reporters don't need answers in order to spur controversy. In fact, I think they have become seasoned to exploit the non-answer and prefer the sensationalist speculative atmosphere that results...just like someone pleading the fifth. Their main focus (reporters) is to be able to say "you heard it here first", which means that they have no responsibility for waiting for anything resembling evidence, and that we will endure these subjects dominated headlines until there's a more profitable headline for them to ride for a couple of weeks.

    November 7, 2011 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  19. Jim

    "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."

    They have an accuser, they have the evidence of the payoff, and they have the historical evidence. Therefore, Mr. Cain, no "Journalistic Code of Ethics" has been violated. So, either answer the questions, or allow them to destroy your campaign, which as we all know was orchestrated to eliminate he possibility of the race card. But come up with something more substancial than the "Journalistic Code of Ethics". That only seems to apply when dealing with stories harmful to the Republicans. Let's not talk about the way the media and the Republican Congress went after Clinton for a marital indiscretion. Lest you on the right forget, Clinton was censured by Congress, which is a serious result to an impeachment hearing. Of course, you would have to understand that the entire process, not just kicking the President out of office, is what is called Impeachment.

    November 7, 2011 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  20. thunderbolt

    Let me get this straight, He is supposed to defend himself againsty alligations brought upo by people who won't identify themselves when accusing him of these actions. He has answered the questions for weeks now. Don't any of you scholars wonder why they are just now coming forward? Cain has been in the race for some time now but no word of this till he is leading in the polls. What stinks here besides CNN trying to defame Cain because he is a threat to their agenda.Cain has already said more than I would have without their being somebodys name tied to the alligations. Some girl said you pinched her butt.....who?........oh someone........whats her name?......I can't tell you........................PLEASE?

    November 7, 2011 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  21. Mike in SA

    @Ts: "They went after Clinton ...why does he think he should be exempt from answering questions??"

    Not true. Clinton was insulated from direct contact with the press and only allowed prepared statements to be made. His press secretary may have been blasted with questions (and again only in controlled environments like he press room), but Clinton himself never had reporters swarming around him asking questions again and again that had already been answered.

    November 7, 2011 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  22. The Real Tom Paine

    Its always the same from the Right, muzzle the Press because they have the audacity to ask questions that don't fit in with their preferred role for the Media, which is to be the PR arm for the oligarchs they adore. The arrogance of Cain is truly amazing, but his apologists on this board boggle the mind with their selective memory.

    November 7, 2011 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  23. Mike in SA

    @Brad: "He resigned because people wanted him out for not be forthcoming... As Cain should from the race."

    I'm guessing you're talking about the Weiner case. In the Weiner case he was trying to refute things the others had pictures of him doing. Regarding Cain, in the one case we know anything about, the woman's motivations were certainly questionable. According to her own lawyer's time line Cain was already gone from the NRA to be national co-chair of Steve Forces' presidential bid (June 1999) before the woman filed claim that he created a "hostile workplace" (July 1999) and left the organization (Sept 1999).

    November 7, 2011 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  24. neine, neine, neine

    I think Cain would make a far better democrat. He should switch parties if he wants to get the liberal media off his back.

    November 7, 2011 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  25. HR

    I do not agree with all things Cain, however on this issue I do strongly agree – it is high time the lame stream media was told to SHUT UP-–todYS MEDIA IS OUT OF LINE AND ONLY WANTS TO DESTROY NOT TO REPORT LEGITIMATE NEWS!

    November 7, 2011 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
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