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
Wow, and these two are normal sane people? If they are, than the voices I hear are misleading me! So I want to work for Cain because if he asks me a question about my past employment, than all I have to do is say nothing or confusing things or one thing and then another – in the end, I can just blame him and all employers for asking the wrong question. After all that is what he is doing. I could really care less what he did but at least be man enough now to be honest about it.
I really like this guy, CAIN 2012!!!!! But again anything is better then obummer
Im surprised Cain's masters, the Koch brothers" haven't pulled the plug on him yet.
This is just another example of how the fanatic far right love to pick and chose the parts of the Bible that suit them and discard the rest.
This is a cult of war mongers that thankfully seem to be on their way out.
I did not have pizza with that woman!!
I am not a crook. Sound familiar?
"Don't go there"???
Sorry Mr Cain....when We The People ask our President for answers they WILL answer, so I guess this means you know you aren't qualified for the job right?
Cain has accepted ILLEGAL campaign donations and he has the GALL to try and lecture someone on ETHICS?! Newsflash Hermy, the reporters have followed their ethics flawlessly. You, on the other hand, are proving to be more corrupt every single day. And by running away from questions (another proud Teabagger tradition) you are proving yourself a COWARD.
Yet not one "journalist" has the inquisitiveness to ask what the woman's motivations were when she filed "hostile workplace" claims (July1999) AFTER the supposed actor had already left the organization to be national co-chair of Steve Forbes' presidential bid (June 1999). Her motivation and claim filing couldn't have been to have a less "hostile" workplace as the actor was already gone. At that point it could only have been monetary. Yet no MSM journalist has found their own motivation to question this.
Sorry Mr Cain. You'll never get out of this one.....The reporters are only doing their jobs....
What is he supposed to say? We've seen no real evidence and the "victims" don't want to comment. The left has simply found something to try and pin on him, and will continue to beat this horse until they've completely exhausted they're arguments. What sort of comment should he make at this point? He provided the best answer he could have, "Read all of the other accounts, where everything has been answered – end of story".
Of course, the more "end to the story" the old pizza-man screams, the more stories there will be.
He is on the way down and out. As he well should be.
I started to watch this on C-Span and for a minute I thought Gingrich would plant a kiss on Cain; i turned the channel.
He should have scolded the reporters. They have been guilty of character assassination, with absolutely no substantiation, at all.
Reporters today, are not very good at what they do.
Like all the rest of the Republican/Tparty Cain proves once again that he and the rest of them are not fit to be president not only for their policies – which are idiotic- but for their inability to actually deal with the real world.
Mr. Cain, these reporters are doing the job WE PAY THEM TO DO. Learn it, live with it and stop blowing up at them.
Fine since he will not answer questions about what he does not want to discuss, I suggest the media ignore him in all cases, EVEN when there are nice, cushy questions he does want to answer.
And I suppose he thinks as President HE could decide when issue was closed? He may want to invite Bill over for pizza and to chat about reality.
O Bama won 2012! Hillary for 2016!
The press should be ashamed of their selves. Who is the woman? What did Mr. Cain do? Are there any witnesses? Journalists today are no better than one digging outside my house in the garbage.
These two are the biggest embarrassing to the country. Can you imagine the nutjob like Cain as president behaving like a petulant child at a G-20 or G-8 news conference? And Gingrich, the gold digger, talks of morality?
Typical republican, thinking he can get away with not talking about it that it will just "disappear". This guy is arrogant enough to think he's going to tell the reporters what to do. My question is simple and too bad none of the reporters will ask the question: When are the republicans going to get serious about this election and find someone that is a good candidate? So far all they have are religious freaks and haters.
OH YES – that is REALLY what we want, a POTUS who decides "He doesn't have to answer anything" – "now shut up and drop it".
So when he decides to wage Nuclear War – "It's none of our business – now shut up and drop it"
LET THERE BE LIGHT – BBBBBBBBBOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMM
Gop is a joke. An Uncle Tom 7 dawarfs and snow white. I will give you name of real American Hero that can't be bought by either party. Grad West Point, Heisman winner, Grad Oxford, wrote his thesis about why he was against the Vietnam War and still went, youngest brig, General in the history of America, youngest 3 star General in the history of America. This Guy is a born leader but instead people are supporting people who have no integrity, liars, racist, and the most unamerican group of Benedict Arnolds that we have ever seen before. Check this guy out to see that this person has the Right Stuff. Pete Dawkins.
Journalists are really scared of Cain it seems. Afraid of a real candidate and their candidate losing.
Cain has nothing left to say, we all know he has lied. But, he will continue to deny his bad behavior with those young women, slander the victims and blame the media. Cain and Gingrich will do anything, say anything so they can fleece the flock and just repeat the same old GOP talking points recycled for the past 30 years.
Cain and the other republicans are desperate to remain relevant, but they have no plan, no plan for jobs or the economy. But, their “debate” was everything the audience wanted, when the audience is a bunch of T-Baggers; the new GOP with a 15-second attention span. No facts needed. No laws. No economic realities – The only that matters is what they know for a fact and what they believe regardless if it’s true or not!
actually, cain ... or ANY politician ... doesn't get to call "end of story". this isn't his pizza company where his subordinates have to cow tow to his every whim. the fact that he's actually trying to call "end of story", shows how unknowing he is of the public service world where the public would be HIS boss.