Cain scolds reporters: 'End of story' to sexual harassment claims
November 6th, 2011
04:58 AM ET
2 years ago

Cain scolds reporters: 'End of story' to sexual harassment claims

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


Filed under: 2012 • Herman Cain • Newt Gingrich
soundoff (339 Responses)
  1. Bob

    Asking questions that have already been answered is NOT their job. It's badgering and bad reporting. Reporting stories without any facts is also BAD reporting.

    November 6, 2011 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  2. Mike in SA

    @pmk1953: "The woman wanted to talk, now she doesn't."

    No she didn't. In fact on Anderson Cooper her lawyer said HE had informally requested a release from the NRA, but when progressed and they referred him to their counsel, what did he say? He said he had to check with his client before formally asking for the release. That sounds to me like she never gave her approval to do this and the lawyer was putting out feelers on his own. It's very apparent that they want the ability to release public statements and make public accusations without have to undergo public scrutiny.

    November 6, 2011 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  3. Maurice

    I dont see how someones past will have a difference on what they can do in their future. People change all the time. There is no perfect person. NO ONE is perfect!!! I am not a repub but I do not think that this issue should determine if he is able to run for office. And these women that are coming out now, why? For 15 minutes of fame or eventually books? No one is worthy to judge this man. Men and Women flirt and sleep around all the time in corporate america. I am not saying that it is right. These are facts. Whether this is true or not, He settled and paid these accusers. END OF STORY!!

    OBAMA is going to win again anyway! so, all this doesnt matter. Just makes for good television!!!!!

    November 6, 2011 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  4. Sherron Teal

    Does it really matter who leaked the story? The fact is it appears to be true. These two women were not given a full years pay for nothing! Furthermore to the person who mentioned Clinton and is trying to turn this into a race issue GET OVER IT! Everything does not have to do with your poor me racist insight. For Cain to think he can continue running for president and we all will just ignore these allegations because he says to do so, reeks of pure ARROGANCE! Also I truly believe if a man has no respect for his wife then he will have no respect for the office of President!

    November 6, 2011 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  5. chuckwagon

    He stated he wants to make sure China does not get Nuke capability. Don't tell him they got in 64, he'll be shocked, but will deny he said it.

    November 6, 2011 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  6. no1atall

    How could any on Cains problems be the result of racism that Cain says is no longer a 'factor' in America? Can you imagine this guy with control of the CIA, FBI, ATF, 'Black Opps, etc? No one would be safe. He would make Gaddafi look kind and benevolent.

    November 6, 2011 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  7. Anon

    An indication of what he would be like as president. Corrupt, arrogant, and antagonistic to the press. What an uncle tom.

    November 6, 2011 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  8. Marco Polo

    Ron Paul 2012

    November 6, 2011 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  9. Mama Bear

    Nobody cares WHO leaked the story. Whomever did do it, thank you!! We the people have been duped too many times by lying politicians! Where is HIS code of ethics??????

    November 6, 2011 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  10. steven harnack

    Hey Mike, the motivation just might be to save other women down the road from the same disgusting behavior that she was subjected to? Not everybody acts solely in self interest. If some teacher molested your child would you consider the matter over if they left and went to another school? And for the person ranting that who, what, where, and when are gone from journalism, if you would use your brain for just a moment you would see that those ARE the things that they are asking Cain about this incident.

    November 6, 2011 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  11. sdmco

    Cain and Gingrich are two peas in a pod. Gingrich whining about being asked tough questions, and Cain's ignorance about "journalistic ethics." Instead of arrogantly refusing to answer questions, perhaps Cain's chief of staff should refresh his memory on journalism's vital role in democracy. Make no mistake everyone - this is the playbook: Convince everyone that journalists are lying and the only truth is what your told by a candidate. There is an intentional war on knowledge in this country, and this is only one manifestation of it.

    November 6, 2011 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  12. LaPlut

    Typical republican; they can never take responsibility for their actions.

    November 6, 2011 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  13. Pa mom

    I am perplexed by the liberals afront to Mr Cain's allegations. When did the dems/libs become moral people? We have Hillary as Sec of State who was the Whitewater scandal and linked to Mr Foster's alleged suicide and her husband, who swore on the bible and lied to the world. Yet these very people are a strong part of the democratic party. You folks cannot have it both ways. Obama is worried about Cain so why wouldn't dirt be in the forefront of the media? Any semi-intelligent person can figure this one out! Dirt will fly until until next November.

    November 6, 2011 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  14. Randy, San Francisco

    Cain is self destructing by appearing very unpresidential.

    November 6, 2011 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  15. Brian

    GOP'ers need an enemy, and it's the media not owned by Murdoch. Politico only reported what happened. They never made assertions that Cain was guilty. Cain's inconsistent responses to this story is why some think he's hiding something. As with the "birther" issue, if you are not guilty, prove it. If Cain can "have fun" with the birther issue at the expense of Obama, we can do the same with this story. So if ur not with the GOP, then they say shut up and keep quiet.

    November 6, 2011 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  16. Kahuna

    The Koch bros think they already have this won so they, and Cain feel they can be defiant. They're alreadying counting their increased wealth and it's all in 9's.

    November 6, 2011 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  17. Ethelsdad

    The most fascinating thing about this Cain story is how he is approaching the situation like a CEO. As a CEO he can instruct his underlings that "we're going to focus on this, not that" and of course in that world, they go along with his stated desires. Being President or being a candidate, he needs to realize that we (this includes the media) do not work for him and that actually he works for us. He does not get to control the agenda or the topics. This is one of the reasons why business people do not do well in government. Business is a dictatorship, government is dialogue and compromise.

    November 6, 2011 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  18. Frank

    Hey Cain if you can't take the heat get out of the "pizza" kitchen.

    November 6, 2011 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  19. Gloria in NW

    to FIELD1stSGT. You should probably have your medications adjusted.

    November 6, 2011 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  20. logic in LA

    When this discussion is over is not his to decide.
    He wants it shut down, open up the files from the payoff and make them public.
    Until then, reporters can keep asking him again and again about the issue.

    November 6, 2011 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  21. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    A lady came up to me in the grocery store yesterday, and told me Herb Cain was born in Nigeria, and wasn't a United States citizen. Why won't he show America his long form birth certificate to dispel this fact??

    November 6, 2011 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  22. Anonymous

    The first time I saw Cain I wondered why the Koch brothers would back him. Then I realized how convenient it would be for Cain to try and fail – making Romney look all the better. I have always believed Romney is much more in keeping with the Koch brother aims. He is malleable to their will. Cain is too much of a loose canon. Cain is going down in flames and Romney is being repackaged (no surprise there) to look like the long suffering holy saint and savior of the country. BLECH!!!

    November 6, 2011 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  23. works4me

    Time to call the Koch brothers of yours... "I'm a comin' home"

    November 6, 2011 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  24. Kenny

    Cain is right about the media not asking him questions about the accusations against him. He is a Republican and if he says it is a closed issue then that is what it should be unless the accusations are made against the opposition. If the accusations are made against a Democrat then that Democrat should be investigated and questioned until all is made available. Republicans should not be subjected to such questions by the media. Now to all you media hounds, let it go so Mr Cain can go back to living his life on Koch Island in the US of Koch. It is there that he enjoys smoking his Koch.

    November 6, 2011 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  25. Ralph in Orange Park, FL

    He will only answer questions he wants to answer on topics of his choosing. Kind of like a male, African-American Michele Bachmann.

    November 6, 2011 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
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