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.
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@JDH: "Mr. Cain, these reporters are doing the job WE PAY THEM TO DO."
A) "WE" don't pay them.
B) If "I" were paying them "I" would not want them asking the same questions that have already been answered over and over again, nor would I want them chasing after unsubstantiated rumors. In fact "I" would instruct them to ask the woman's attorney how it is that she didn't file her claim of "hostile workplace" (July 1999) until after the supposed actor had already left the organization (prior to June 1999). It couldn't have been to have a less "hostile" workplace...the actor was already gone. So what on earth could have been the motivation...money?
i think if he answers the questions his story will change again, like it has since this story broke. these reporters are asking these questions for us the american people. ask away!!!!
I would like to see a GIngrich/cain ticket just so our current president would have to debate Gingrich on real issues facing this country.
Still more questions than answers from Mr. Omnipotent. If you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen.
"End of story", won't do it. Just who does he think he is?
"FOX is just so much more responsible with real news...even if you dont happen to like it, at least its real."
LOL! Thanks for the comedy. Fakes News is "real" only in the sense that what you see and hear there is "real BS."
"He should have scolded the reporters. They have been guilty of character assassination, with absolutely no substantiation, at all."
Really? I didn't realize he was talking to Fakes News "reporters."
Mr Cain needs to go back to running a pizza shop.
What ever became of family values? Isn't this supposed to be the values party? Or does it only apply to the other side?
Herman, your 15 minutes are up. what arrogance makes you think you can decide what questions will be asked of you while running for president? you should've had the foresight to know these incidents would be brought up when you decided to run. your not realizing this speaks volumes about your fitness to be president. go back to pushing pizza! and for the dim bulbs out there still supporting ANY rethug candidate, what's it going to take to make you realize how much harm they've done to this country? how dense do you have to be to not see they're keeping the country from recovering so suckers will give them another shot at finishing its destruction? wake up and smell the treason! anyone who intentionally harms this country, which the rethugs are doing in their war against Obama, is a traitor.
Cain answer the questions put forth. The media, with the exception of Fox news, represnt the voice of the people. This accusation is not going away because we do not need another womanizer in the Whitehouse... so belly up or withdraw.
"Now we see a woman who wont come foreward, and she wont say what happened. If anything"
until the Nra drops the do not speak clause she cant with out being sued.
Better get used to the scrutiny, Herman, if u wanna be POTUS! This is just the beginning of the digging and reporting! And anything you might even THINK you are hiding or have hidden WILL come out!
Yep – I agree. End of story. End of Cain.
Yeah, that always works. Tell a reporter off, the media loves that. Is this the kind of leader we are going to have in him? A 6fh grader. He brought all of this on and having complaints is a legit issue. The press hounded Democrats over similar claims and the Republiklans said the press are just doing their job. Well, Herman the Toucher, time to answer for your past.
@T-ottawa not one of our modern day presidents could take "question time"
Herman Cain is completely ignorant of national security strategy, world affairs, science, and economic policy. It's a national embarrassment this guy is even being CONSIDERED by any party for ANY national office. I'm waiting for the "Wait a second! This guy is totally unqualified!" scandal to break....
And yet the right-wing has no problem with attacking President Obama's patriotism, faith, and birthplace for the last three years?
Good for him. The press didn't hound Clinton at all. What a surprise!
Bravo Cain. Give the media the medicine they are asking for. Interviewing someone should be done in a good manner, and not hijacking a person anywhere and any time they wish to!
Herb, if it makes you feel any better, the GOP would never have consented to your nomination anyway. You're not "cut from the right cloth," so to speak.
This guy is pure bully and is not capable of being President of this country. The Tea Idiots do not want him and neither do his "brothers Koch" want him. They are too conservative, and conservatives are recists. Put him into the room with fellow idiots Palin, Perry and Michele Bachmann, and let's move on. Romney will win the Republican nomination, much to the chagrin of many conservatives (58% of them did not support McCain last election), and President Obama will get another 4 years. Now we have to focus on Boehner and Cantor, they have to go then the President can accomplish some meaningful legislation.
This guy is pure bully and is not capable of being President of this country. The Tea baggers do not want him and neither do his "brothers Koch" want him. They are too conservative, and conservatives are racists. Put him into the room with fellow lackluster running mates Palin, Perry and Michele Bachmann, and let's move on. Romney will win the Republican nomination, much to the chagrin of many conservatives (58% of them did not support McCain last election), and President Obama will get another 4 years. Now we have to focus on Boehner and Cantor, they have to go then the President can accomplish some meaningful legislation.
Never heard of any "journalistic code of ethics." What happens if you break it ? Do they impound your laptop ?
Amazing (and sickening) how the "family values" party and their brainwashed followers are Herb's staunchest defenders. What a bunch of lying, hypocritical frauds. Don't ever call yourselves that again!
This guy is pure bully and is not capable of being President of this country. The Tea baggers do not want him and neither do his "brothers Koch" want him. They are too conservative, and conservatives are racists. Put him into the room with fellow lackluster running mates Palin, Perry and Michele Bachmann, and let's move on. Romney will win the Republican nomination, much to the chagrin of many conservatives (58% of them did not support McCain last election), and President Obama will get another 4 years. Now we have to focus on Boehner and Cantor, they have to get voted out then the President can accomplish some meaningful legislation.