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
Somebody needs to explain to this idiot that he doesn't get to write the questions.
don't blame Cain a bit
if the media would remember how it did not cover the Edward's story because he is a dem., maybe they would get the point.
Journalism, try it!
I know what i'm about to suggest probably won't ever happen, but I propose that the media boycott Herman Cain. Just flat out refuse to cover him and I assure you, that he will be begging to answer questions about the harassment scandal.
Sounds like freedom to me. You only get to talk about what I say you can talk about.
Cain has been nothing but evasive from the start and is now becoming a Sarah Palin about the kinds of questions that can be asked and answered. If you think that the questions are tough now, you best bow out now. And as far as the Koch brothers are concerned, wake up! They are not your "brothers", but your puppet masters. If you really think that you are qualified to be a leader, cut the strings and prove it.
Thin-skinned, aren't we?
If he can't handle the pressure of reporters asking him questions, is he really someone you'd want in the Oval Office?
A lot HAS been storied. Not a whole lot answered, I admit. We all know that there is something there, but perhaps nothing of a "money shot" after all the work up. I must say, it is getting a little boring. Sure would need to be something spectacular to really be of interest and that, would come from the victim(s), not Cain I would submit.
cain is done even without these problems i wouldn't vote for any repugs they're selfish and greedy.
Cain is in La La land...
Neither of these two have what it takes.
Herman is a jerk.
Cain chose to run for President of the United States, not some small town sherif,f and therefore opened his entire life to scrutiny. If you can't stand the heat get out of the frying pan
Mr. Cain, if you are innocent why did you settle? and why would you not allow the women to come forward? You are such a liar! Liar liar!
Can you tell us what your wife thinks about that case? Why she did not come by your side to deny it?
The American people need answers. All this will continue to haunt you.
Why is it when a politican gets caught at something it is always the media's fault....Well, Mr. Cain, not anwering the questions about this incident, I find you more guilty of it....Tell your friends the Koch Bros. that you are packing your bags and going home....
Cain is indeed a gentleman...the press, from the likes of so called "center" CNN are out to get him....its just that simple and obvious. I think CNN is a digraceful cable outfit...FOX is just so much more responsible with real news...even if you dont happen to like it, at least its real. Thats why FOX beat the stuffing out of all of the rest....they really are fair and balanced.
Typical GOBP deathcult manure: Criticize the press for asking questions they won't or don't want to answer. Sorry you closet fascists, that's not how a free press works. And endorsing Ryan's ridiculous plan shows both KochCain and Newter are unfit for office (though we knew that already).
I believe Herman Cain Really did It, mainly because he refuse to talk about In any way. To get this clear up right he should be In the new with this three women and let them tell there sides and than tell his sides. Than Let the people decide who telling the True. because Right now with Herman Cain refusing to even talk about It Is making him looking petty guilty. And If he Think It will go away just because he don't want to talk about It he wrong. It won't go away and more and more People going to start believing It .
The guy is an idiot in my less than humble Canadian opinion. Any question about those allegations are relevant to the voters as they relate to his behavior and what the American public could expect to see. The point he made about 'code of ethics' from my point of view is a deliberate attempt to muzzle the press by insinuating that the reporting asking the question has ethics problems. If the press as a group showed some balls and tell him they are the ones who set the rules of engagement for questions and not the candidates and if they stonewall them then the media will let the public know and then start ignoring those candidates. This guy is running for the most powerful office of the country and if he is short fused on this topic what will he do when there is a serious problem?
Oh my, a "patient centric market driven approach"
Translation – how can we gouge you and do more damage than your illness.
Cain doctrine:1) People who are in a bad situation should blame themselves. Unless it's me in a bad situation, in which case I will blame everyone but me. 2) There is no such thing as racism in America. Excpet for all criticism of me, which is of course race based.
And if that's not enough to impress the tea party, there's all the Palin-esque foreign policy expertise. Rock on, tea party.
Herman.. Herman... Herman...
As I've heard my 'right of center' friends say many times, "If you don't have anything to hide, just answer the question." Seriously, do you think the story will be over because you SAY it is? That's like chumming in a school of sharks...
At first, I dismissed this whole thing as overblown if true at all, but given how you've chosen to respond in a multiplicity of ways and explanations, and now your borderline belligerance in not responding at all, I'm beginning to wonder.
I don't care who the Republican candidate is. I am voting for him or her. I haven't seen such anger and hopelessness since Jimmy Carter.
So this means as President anytime he don't like the question, he will just say especially those that indicates he lied, I will not answer, I guess he will only grant interviews to Fox because these question are not going to just go away.
There you have , members of the Media. Mr Cain, how is arguably so dishonest it seems he's out of touch with reality sometimes, has called you dishonest. Please call him out on his lies , each of them, for the rest of us. Perhaps it'll stop the other candidates from lying so much.
End of story?...which one, the fact you got jiggy with some women?, or maybe that your a paid stooge of the koch brothers?, maybe that your whole team is kock brothers paid and ex employees of koch brothers....maybe the fact your more heavily supported by them then the tea party which is saying something as they are a subsiduary or koch suckers inc.
Lets stop asking questions completely and just let you fade into the background where you belong...say hi to the koch suckers for me
Why are Republicans such cowards. They spend most of their time running from reporters and avoiding questions. When they aren't screaming they are the victims of some plot, they are busy side stepping the issues. It's embarrassing! Is this really the best the right has to offer.