Cain scolds reporters: 'End of story' to sexual harassment claims
November 6th, 2011
04:58 AM ET
3 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. The Real Tom Paine

    Mike in SA, I felt Weiner should have resigned right away, so please don't think this is a partisan issue. Cain has a pattern of behavior that is disturbing: why would a conservative talk-show host describe his behavior if there was nothing to it?

    November 7, 2011 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  2. Bill

    Jesse, I would say that is what the current president has done for three years. Surround himself with fans and loyal media. Liberals should always look in the mirror before insulting republcans. You will find not much of a difference.

    November 7, 2011 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  3. maggie

    Herman Cain can duck and dodge all he wants. As far as I'm concerned, he would have no reason to duck and dodge if there was nothing to the story and he could actually tell one story that he can stick to. He can't. That may make him the darling of the Tea Party crowd seem to have more of a problem with the "main stream media" than the veracity of their own candidate but it won't get him very far with the general electorate who does. He is a nightmare for the republican establishment.

    November 7, 2011 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  4. Epidi

    Awww, did they hit a widdle nerve? Poor baby! Now he's having a widdle tantrum, awwww. If you can't take the heat of the mudslinging that goes on in elections, get out of the kitchen! Showing his true colors about handling stress and pressure – fail.

    November 7, 2011 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  5. Jim in Maine

    I call it "EATING THEIR OWN". The Dems would have no advantage leaking Cain's story to the press at this point in the election process. This story is one you'd save for the final election, not preliminaries. No-o–o, this is a little nasty trick right from the RNC, itself. It wants to position Romney as the front guy.. And apparently it will stoop very low and play very dirty tricks to get "their man" to the front of the line. Mr. Cain, your own party did you in! Now bow out of the race, stop blowing money on a futile campaign, and be sure to remind your fellow Conservatives what "enemy" did you in!. The RNC!!

    November 7, 2011 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  6. dime store prophet

    Oh NO! A conservative black male, who is surging in the polls. Listen to all these libs shaking in their boots. He's a black man... who is self-made. He didn't follow the racist, democratic mantra of "all blacks are victims to a white society". And as we all know, democrats need "victims" to keep them in office.

    What's more is that Cain’s media attention has soared, as has his financial contributions as well as his poll numbers.

    AND... the liberal media is powerless to stop it. I can hear them crying right now.

    Let’s see... conservative black man, undetailed allegations, who went to be successful. I remember this movie. I liked it better when his name was Clarence Thomas.

    November 7, 2011 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  7. Lee65

    thunderbolt – well, the women can't come forward because of the confidentiality agreement. They did not come forward; someone "outed" the story. Probably a republican because the dems would prefer Cain over Romney to run against Obama. Bottom line – the story's out; he needs to answer questions. I never thought much of this information myself until Cain started changing his story over and over again.

    November 7, 2011 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  8. Jean

    This was not so much Cain's warning, as a warning to voters about Cain.

    A loser is a loser is a loser.

    November 7, 2011 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  9. Name Ourkie

    Cain just hopes the press will go away.....Cain is toast. Cain and Gingrich.. The love fest between losers.

    November 7, 2011 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  10. WhereIsPalin

    "now click your heels together three times and say......“

    November 7, 2011 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  11. Mike in SA

    The Real Tom Paine: "I felt Weiner should have resigned right away, so please don't think this is a partisan issue."

    Yes, yes, I forgot. You are the voice of the left. Meanwhile in the real world the Huffington Post, Politico, and almost all the libs posting on these forums spent the initial days of the Weiner scandal attacking the source of the story even though the evidence was clear. You all questioned the source more than you questioned Weiner and the source had pictures! So don't try to act all self righteous for the left.

    November 7, 2011 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  12. Anonymous

    Mr. Cain is a prime example of what happens when a small segment of citizens unable to think for themselves allow radio and cable talk hosts the authority to pick political candidates, and once their choice is made, push their "viewer" fan base to run with the candidate no matter that the candidate himself/herself isn't - and never will be - electable.

    November 7, 2011 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  13. barack o'soros

    Good for Cain! The mdeia have become absolute wolves....dogmatically pursuing their OWN agenda and disregarding ethics and true jouyrnalism.....cain was 100% right....people are SICK AND TIRED OF THE DISGUSTING MEDIA.

    November 7, 2011 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  14. Roscoelette

    I wish Obama got half the media scrutiny that Mr. Cain is getting. He has already answered the questions. For the media to keep bringing it up when the accusers won't even go on the record and tell what happened is ridiculous. There are important events happening that should be covered. I applaud Mr. Cain for referring reporters back to the answers he has already given, so he can focus on the issues.

    November 7, 2011 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  15. Mike in SA

    @Lee65: "well, the women can't come forward because of the confidentiality agreement."

    Oh they absolutely can Lee. All they have to do is A) pay the money back and B) be willing to have their stories be put under scrutiny. 'A' can easily be taken care of. I'm sure there are numerous political operatives and/or media sources that would be more than happy to pony up $35,000 and/or $45,000 to have the whole "damaging" story come out. That leaves 'B'...the women not wanting their stories put under public scrutiny. For instance, the story we know most about involves a woman who didn't claim a "hostile workplace" until the man she accuses was already long gone from the organization. I for one find that curious and something that should be scrutinized.

    November 7, 2011 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  16. Bob F.

    This dude is just a clone of Sarah Palin. When the media's questions hit too close to home, just refuse to talk to them. Feeling superior to the reporters is a death knell to a campaign. Remember Sarah Palin and Katie Couric? China is working on nuclear weapons? I wonder if Cain can see China from his back porch.

    November 7, 2011 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  17. JustMe

    Why does he think he is above having to answer for what he has done? Bill Clinton answered, John Edwards answered, Gary Hart answered, wth should Herman Cain not have to answer? And FYI, Hermie, the media is not asking about this because your black, they're asking you about it because you are RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT, you jacka**. So STOP PLAYING THE FREAKIN RACE CARD.

    November 7, 2011 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  18. SlowGun

    @dime store prophet
    Let’s see... conservative black man, undetailed allegations, who went to be successful. I remember this movie. I liked it better when his name was Clarence Thomas.

    ------------------------------------------

    Here is the problem with comparing this to the Clarence Thomas issue.
    (1) Claraence Thomas faced allagations never brought up until 20 years after they happened.
    (2) Clarence Thomas face 1 person making allagations.
    (3) Herman Cain is accused of this behavoir by 3 woman so far
    (4) Herman Cain's's accusors came forward right when the harassment happened.
    (4) There was an admission of guilt with the settlement that NRA made with the victims
    (5) Herman Cain's accusors had to sign a gag order as part of the settlement.

    November 7, 2011 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  19. Eagle Eye

    Herman Cain wouldn't have this problem if he didn't act like a moron when he was CEO at the National Restaurant Association. Had he been a stand up guy the liberal wouldn't have picked up this story and Herman Cain wouldn't have to be explaining himself everywhere he goes. Hey Herman welcome to politicial game of diry tricks. Before Herman was wining now he's losing ground. He has no one to blame but himself. Herman Cain thought he was a squeaky clean well it turns out that he isn't. Herman Cain had everything for the picking everything was going his way now everything will now is going against him. It's only a matter of time when Herman Cain will drop out because of the bad press he's getting. He could've of had it all.

    November 7, 2011 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  20. Lee65

    Mike – of course they "can". Why in the world should they have to defend themselves. They did not leak this story. They've already told their stories and were awarded with $ and a confidentiality agreement. If it was only the $ they were after, they would come forward. There'd be book and interview deals.

    November 7, 2011 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  21. GOP = Greed Over People

    Since the current head of the restaurant association has stated there were charges against Cain and the women were paid "settlements" they were NOT paid "serverance" as Cain indicates.

    Funny how the GOP baggers, the purveyors of " christian family values" now see reporting the facts as a "lamestream media smear".

    November 7, 2011 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  22. Lee65

    Roscoelette – If Mr. Cain had been upfront from the beginning, perhaps the media would have already moved on. Instead, he changed his story multiple times – every day there was a new "recollection". By the way, everyone in this country has freedom of speech – including the media.

    November 7, 2011 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  23. Tex71

    "I warn you! If you elect me, I WILL NOT be held accountable! There will be no transparency nonsense on MY watch!"
    Don't worry Mr. Cain, we won't elect you.

    November 7, 2011 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  24. Sniffit

    Mike in SA and Lee65 – The women involved here CANNOT negate or void the confidentiality agreement by simply paying the money back. It doesn't work like that. Even if she did, NRA would sue the living dayloghts out of her for breach of the contract once she told her story, claiming damages for anything from actual lost revenues to lost business good will and reputation, which they could easily pay some expert to claim goes into the 7 figures in light of the high profile nature of all this nonsense. They'd be dragged through the mud, exposed to financial ruin, subjected to years of litigation and NRA would most certainly have their lawyers dig into their personal lives and try to cross-examine them in a way that makes them look like promiscuous harlots in order to claim it was all just a ruse to get money. It's not worth it for them if NRA won't sign a release...very VERY powerful people are backing Cain and would NOT let them escape unscathed.

    November 7, 2011 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  25. ethandy

    When you're in a job interview, you don't respond to an interviewer's question with: "Don't go there! End of story!"

    Mr. Cain, you are in a 12-month interview for the top job in the land. And if you perform well in the interview, WE may decide you are worthy of the position. WE may decide to hire you and pay you. I am inclined to think you just majorly blew your chances.

    Either way, you need to realize that WE are in control of your fate. That, if you, by some miracle, actually get the job, you will be working for US. Not the 'brothers.' Not the teaparty. US. You WILL answer any question we ask. And if you don't feel you can do that, you are free to go interview for the leadership of some other country.

    November 7, 2011 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
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