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
This guy is a bully and does not appear to be 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 racist in nature. Put him into the room with fellow lackluster running mates Palin, Perry and Michele Bachmann, and let's move on. Romney will win his party's 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 will be able to accomplish some meaningful legislation.
Fred in Ca –
Preach your racism somewhere else, you sick brainwashed sub-human.
How is he going to handle running a country if he cannot handle this. Please pack up your toys and go home.
Cain had better get used to the scrutiny if he expects to be president. Merely refusing to answer questions will not make the problem go away. In fact, it will make it worse. Surrounding one's self with sychophants (you tea partiers get someone to explain that word to you) will not prevent those of us who want to know what's going on from diggin into the past. Sarah Palin tried it and failed. Michele Bachmann is trying it and failing. Rick Perry is trying it and faliing. You may win your party's nomination, but you will not become president if you are not open and honest, and if you have a history of being a slime dog, you will spend a lot of money for nothing.
What's with that name, is that your rank in the Nazi skinhead movement, or the rank you hold in your pajama-platoon sleepovers in your mom's basement? Either way, your comment has to be the most insanely asinine comment I've seen in weeks.
His tax plan is from Sim City. His quotes are from movies and cartoons. He didn't know China had nukes. And now he's going to tell reporters what questions they can ask? He came out of nowhere, has ties to Americans for Prosperity, an organization funded by the Kochs, doesn't have a ground team in any of the states, is an obvious amateur, thinks inequality because of color no longer exists (until it's convenient to use). This is a joke, a complete and utter joke, being played on us. And people are contributing to this joke – real money. How low do the scams have to go before we wake up?
if you are avoiding the issue and only want to answer questions you want asked, what makes you presidential material? you can't hide and avoid the policies you will be faced with in the whitehouse. you sound more like sarah palin. just man up and say what happened and it will be over and done. the longer it lingers the harder it will go away.
I find it interesting that Newt was supportive and buddy-buddy with Cain yet Newt lead the charge againist Clinton. He spent day after day salivating and rubbing his tiny hands together and keeping the story going. Now, after a week of coverage of the allegation againist Cain, it's "end of story".
He's a BULLY..... And his WIFE and ADULT children know that too. He keeps them hiden away in his Mansion
An innocent man does not behave like a guilty man.
The whole patient-centric market driven health initiative is ridiculous. Get the market out of our healthcare system, period. I cannot believe that these so called Christians running for the republican nomination would promote the idea that health of nation citizens is a privilege only for those who can pay for it but then in the same breath talk about how wrong abortion is. I am a firm believer that people are not placed on this earth for the use and expense of others. Republican party for all of their religious chest beating treat people, eg, military, middle class and this earth as though it is expendable and those who have amassed enough wealth, power and resources are somehow ordained by a higher power to who validates these principles and want them to rule. This idea is absolutely sick. People are starting to see this and are pushing for real change in terms of what we value. Those Occupiers that are gathering around the world are the one's who embody true christian value, because value people not money and things. The only way they are going to get away with this on a large scale is if they physical enslave people and or decimate and kill off millions of people and somehow justify it as God's will.
The woman wanted to talk, now she doesn't. Sounds like the repub damage control team has gotten to her. Probably threatened to publically smear her. But we all know the Koch bros wouldn't do that. (heavy sarcasm)
Censorship and trying to control the media. How very GOP of you, Mr. Cain. Bush did that and look at the mess he created. Do you have something against the truth?
Can we please just push Cain to the back page of newpapers and just a footnote on all other formes of media, I mean it's not like this Jig is gonna win the election
Now just imagine if Cain were president... and there were any questions of ethics or criminal behavior in his white house. The man is saying over and over that it is racist and unfair that the press is reporting on and asking about actual incidents in his past that he can never seem to recall with any real accuracy. The press are not supposed to necessarily be fans of a candidate.. much less identify themselves as such at a debate.. get THAT man a copy of the code of journalistic ethics. That is part of what keeps them objective and keeps them asking questions that matter, not softball questions you want to answer.
Cain still refuses to talk because the more he talks about his troubles, he diggs himself into a deeper hole. Mr Cain had to call himself a cool Papa are Sugar Daddy in his day. He got caught up and you can bet Mrs Cain is aware of his nightmares just coming back to haunt him. This mess want go away not only will the media keep it out there his running buddies will to.
Reading the comments from the ignorant brainwashed right-wingers just reaffirms my belief that we need another civil war. They need to be purged from society like the cancer they are. I have more respect for garbage. These vermin need eradication before the country is totally lost to these anti-American domestic terrorists.
Holy cow....How did the GOP come up with such a sorry bunch of losers? It's laughable at this point.
It's a shame that the media and one or two potential liars – some working for opposing campaigns – can commit pure character assassination. Is it any surprise that Cain was attacked when he became the frontrunner? To the guys who are running behind, it's time to step up their attacks on Cain. Enter the accusations for something that purportedly occurred 13 years ago! Now the accusations are dredged up, and one of two very questionable people, come out of the woor-work to accuse Cain of harassment? Cain has repeatedly explained, but the media does not want to let it go. No amount of explanation will quench their thirst for controversy and churn. ANYONE who looks at this objectively can see what's going on. Politico started this entire controversy with an anonymous tip, and no evidence to back up the accusations? Amazing. The only reason this story got anywhere at all was because Cain's campaign advisors did not do a good enough job of handling this issue when it first cam-up. Now, Cain has said everything there is to say. If he does not move on, he will not get out his message. And THAT is what Cain's opposition hopes will happen – keep Cain mired in the controversy, and minimize his message. And the media is complicit in helping Cain's opposition do this. Personally, I think Cain should tell the media to f-off.
Cain's delusional; end of story.
Cain should go back to slinging pizza dough. He's a bozo.
"This president is about as candid and accurate as Bernie Madoff in what he tells the American people," Gingrich said.
So we're getting lectures on honesty from a guy who cheated on not one, but TWO WIVES. OK. I guess he must know what he's talking about.
Pizza man it is time for yuou to go back to the cotton fields where you can grab ass as much as you want. You may not be ready yet to live among us. Just remember, teh truth always hurts and you punks who run for office are a bunch of sleeze bags anyway. Just becasue you have money makes you nothing at least not worthy of a vote.
Cain and Mugabe may be relatives. That is scary, he might just turn us into slaves.
You posters sound a lot like Nancy Piglosi did back in October of 2010. You have to take the mainstream wienie out of your mouth and get ready for a real man not some fabricated wuss, I mean Obummer
This pizza boy doesn't understand that the press and reporters can make or break his career. If he can not face simple questions from the reporters, how he can handle tough questions, challenges and decisions 24/7 facing the presidency, if at all he becomes the president (I hope he will never be the president of USA)?