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
Sounds like another Bill Clinton....scolding reporters.....Or perhaps he's just clueless when it comes to good etiquette around women.
If Herman Cain does become the GOP Presidential Candidate, he better get use to answering tough questions. This pursuit will not stop. Did the GOP stop when President Obama was running for President? It was the GOP party who questioned whether Obama was born here and other such questions. These make Herman's accusations about the media hypocritical at best. You can fool some of the people some of the time but not all of the people all of the time. Your actions speak so loud I can't hear what you are saying.
Here's a taste of Cain's managerial style: When an uncomfortable truth presents itself, don't deal with it; just start firing the people who keep bringing it up.
What a loser!
Cain says some in the media is "dishonest", but I guess he's not when he has "shifted his positions" (to put it nicely) during so many of the interviews this past week on how much he knew. He went from he didn't know anything, to giving details accounts of what happened. And no, it wasn't that he was remembering over the first 24 hrs because it was first brought to him 10 days prior to prepare. Beyond all of this, this guy CLEARLY is not even worth focusing on as a serious candidate as he's admitted and showed he knows hardly anything about the issues...As for Newt, funny how he all of a sudden is praising Paul Ryan's plan after he was blasted by conservatives for first calling it "right-wing social engineering." Funny how that happens. AND he has the nerve to call somebody else a crook when he had to RESIGN as Speaker of the House because of his own actions!!!! Plus all of his adulterous adventures as well. PLEASE! Again, he like Mr. Cain are not creditable AT ALL!!! Next story....
Compare Cain's reaction to this to President Obama's dealing with the myriad of nonsense he's had to content with. Not only has the President maintained his cool, he's actually GETTING THINGS DONE FOR THE COUNTRY.
Sorry Herman. You're a candidate, you want my vote, you don't dictate TO me, you play by MY rules.
Correction: "Compare Cain's reaction to this to President Obama's dealing with the myriad of nonsense he's had to CONTEND with."
and this is the kind of choice that we have for presidential election?
Gingrich wants to abolish the CBO, a bi-partisan office. Is that any surprise? He doesn't like what they say so they need to be abolished.
This a part of the bigger plan. A needed side show to distract for as long as possible from the crucial issues. Thirteen months is a long time to put out solutions and let them be analyzed by the public. If you don't have any game plan that will stand the scrutiny it is best to get the public looking and talking about something else.
So now he gets to decide what the media reports on? No one is that powerful Herm. Just take the Fox commentator job already and leave the actual governing to people who are capable of it.
A needed side show to distract for as long as possible from the crucial issues. Thirteen months is a long time to put out solutions and let them be analyzed by the public. If you don't have any game plan that will stand the scrutiny it is best to get the public looking and talking about something else.
@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?"
That's just ridiculous Steven. If the motivation was as you imply, she never would have settled and signed a confidentiality agreement ensuring her story never got out. If her motivation was to "save other women down the road", how is that goal met by taking the money and clamming up???
From a poster on another CNN story, this is it in a nutshell regarding why the harassment story is a valid one to pursue:
"But if there was no issue, why a gag order? [At the time Cain] wasn't running for president... And why now the LYING about it. Convenient memory? Come on..."
Can't even deal with a campaign, what makes one think he can deal with the pressures of the presidency. Another arrogant SOB.
If you want this story to go away, Cain, then open the records. Tell the NRA to relieve these women of their confidentiality clauses so they can tell their story and you can tell yours.
Dodging these questions just makes people think your are hiding something. If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.
They can ask all they want, and Cain can refuse to answer all he wants. Personally, I don't think I want someone with this temperament being president.
Running away from what you do not LIKE?
And he wants to be president?
Blame the media for his stupidity? Sarah Palin called, she wants her excuse back.
The man in a unrepentant pervert and woman hater... he's also an ignorant buffoon and the sooner he departs, stage right, the better for the United States.
The man in a unrepentant pervert and woman hater... he's also an buffoon and the sooner he departs, stage right, the better for the United States.
Tradionalsit conservative actions – blame the media, idf that doesn't work then claim to be a victim, last ditch effort is to then try the bully tactic on everyone.
Typical weak hypocitical Repub punk.
Cain is an uncle tom and a harasser of women and Gingrich is the thrice married blubber butt who dumped his second wife while she was in the hospital dealing with cancer. Perry is a dunce who can't even talk coherently and doesn't mind the real possibility of executing innocent people and Paul thinks he has the right to deny women 100% control over their bodies. What we have here is a bunch of misogynists who are more qualified to pound concrete for a living.
It will be the reaction to the story that brings you down, not the story. You have some crazy (and I do mean CRAZY) Tea Party followers, but most of us are middle of the road. We don't make as much noise, but we vote. I wasn't loving Obama and was thinking we needed a change until I saw what the Republican party put out there to run. Seriously? Obama, use your next term wisely, you were handed a gift.
Look at all the racist diatribes coming from you "so called" Liberals!!! What classic hypocrisy! The Party of Compassion? MLK is turning over in his grave!!! Shame on you!