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
The MEDIA (right wing wack jobs and mainstream) have the job of asking questions that are pertinent to the overall story, say Cain pretending to run for president. If you run for president, you are going to get your skeletons dragged out of the pantry. You can't end the story any more than Sarah Palin could.
WINGERS – what is wrong with you? You want someone to be president who is not a politician. That's like needing brain surgery and wanting a surgeon that's not a doctor. To be in a profession, one has to earn their stripes. Like usually I'd expect someone running for president to know that China IS a nuclear power. Could be important some late night when the pizza's in the oven. I am not a big fan of politicians, but at least recognize that it is a job, and with it you need to understand many things that get learned by doing.
Cain/Gingrich/Perry are all a sideshow. Just get on board with Romney even though he's an evil Mormon and Not like you. Gingrich is teaching other repuklikans that you can run a campaign like a buisness, which makes those trips to Cartier in the private jet so much more enjoyable.
"(4) There was an admission of guilt with the settlement that NRA made with the victims"
Actually, while it's sometimes easy to read a settlement payment as an admission of guilt, it's typical for the settlement agreement to contain all sorts of disclaimers that the payment does not constitute such an admission...and for the plaintiff party to release the defendant party from any and all libaility and claims related to it. So, while we can all aplpy some common sense to it and view the payments as avoidance of a messy lawsuit they knew they'd lose, the documents will sortof ruin that interpretation.
Wow the biggie hear is that reporters have a code of ethics, probably got it from their darling Kim
"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."
Herbie could never have "had it all." His policies are silly (9-9-9 would raise taxes on 85% of Americans and what's with the "no laws will be longer than 3 pages"?). He's also a whiner and obviously believes that as President, he would expect everything he proposes to be followed, no questions asked. Cain is better suited to the business world, where heads of companies rule like dictators, than in any political office in a democracy.
"Journalistic code of ethics" being anything that does not reflect favorably on him. It's not end of story until the story is complete.
Again, the actions of a guilty man. Where there is smoke, there is fire and when you are running for office the public has the right to answers, not just what you want to let out but all the answers.
Sniffit – You're right – these women's lives would be ruined. They should not be criticized for not coming forward anyway. They did not leak this story. As I've said, they've told their stories and were awarded with a settlement. Cain is the one who has a lot of explaining to do.
ethandy - love your post!
What question hasn't the guy not answered yet? These reporters are asking the same questions over and over again. At some point Herman has to stop answering these rediculous questions anid get back on message. These lefties are just so sick over the fact that these women didn't want to come forward and continue to douse gasoline on this fire. The story is dead. Get over it. These are ALLEGATIONS from unnamed sources that won't come forward. The same people who are convicting this guy in the court of public opinion, are the same people that were saying Convicted cop killer Troy Davis was innocent. Even though I personally think Troy Davis MAY have been innocent, intellectually, I have to admit that there is more evidence of Davis' guilt than of Herman Cain's; hence the hipocracy of the left.
As more women come forward to tell their story, Cain gets more desperate and angry, not very presidential. Cain's past history of brutish and sexist behavior cannot be compared with the unfortunate moral lapse of a previous president. Tea Party family supporters are hypocritical if they abandon their holier than thou purity tests in blind loyalty for Cain.
Cain could pull off a Palpetine pretty easy if he were in office: "I am the state." I guess that was Louis XIV. "I am teh Senate" is what I'm looking for. Obama has it down pretty well, just need more arrogance to go with it.
Cain...................... I ask myself:
Does Cain SOUND presidential? To which I reply loudly: NO
Does Cain LOOK presidential? To which I reply loudly: YES – if this were some sci-fi movie on the television.
Sound shallow? You bet it is but then... so is he!
"Journalistic code of ethics"
HAHAHAHAHA...as if we needed more proof that he's utterly clueless. What code of ethics? That whole ball of wax melted when journalism blew up. Advertising is the new arbiter of truth, ethics and the American way.
I like Herman Cain but I think he is handling this extremely poorly. Instead of trying to brow beat reporters and refusing to answer question he should say something "With the opportunity you have been given to ask me a question of substanence, you choose to waste the public time further on this non-story?...Ok, since this is what you feel is most important to the American people, here is your answer..." and then answer the reporters question.
The mean streak he's been trying to hide is starting to manifest itself . . .