Cain must engage on allegations, GOP operatives say
November 7th, 2011
08:37 PM ET
3 years ago

Cain must engage on allegations, GOP operatives say

Washington (CNN) - Several unaffiliated Republican operatives say Herman Cain must say more about the sexual harassment allegations being leveled against him, because his current message is not putting the controversy to rest.

"He needs to be upfront, forthright and get this story behind him," Bob Vander Platts, a leading Iowa Republican activist, tells CNN. The ongoing allegations, he adds, are a "test of Cain's leadership" and "a tipping point for his campaign."

Both Vander Plaats and a national Republican activist who requested anonymity said Cain's dual message of attacking the media - and not answering more detailed questions about the four women who have come forward accusing him of inappropriate behavior when Cain headed the National Restaurant Association - is fueling more controversy.

This operative, who didn't want to speak on the record in order not to upset the Cain campaign, said the issue could especially hurt him with women who are an important part of the Republican primary electorate.

Cain has vehemently denied he sexually harassed anyone, and late Monday his campaign sent an e-mail to supporters in his name lashing out at the media.

"Once this kind of nonsense starts, the media's rules say you have to act in a certain I am well aware of these rules. And I refuse to play by them," Cain states.

In the message, Cain does not respond to the specific allegations former National Restaurant Association foundation employee Sharon Bialek makes against him. Instead, he talks about people who will not give their names and witnesses who won't give their names.

"That's about what you would expect when people are engaging in a 'hatchet job," Cain says. "If the media want to continue talking about nonsense, that's fine. I'm not going to join them. It doesn't like the citizenry plans to join them."

Iowa's Vander Plaats says the Republican activists in the state are fair and will not rush to judgment but will need more information.

"If it's true, he's got huge problems," Vander Plaats said. But if it's not, then Cain needs to provide more information in order to clear the air, he said.

"It goes at the question of character and integrity and can I trust you," he added.

"You cannot let this dominate the campaign," Vander Plaats said, a sentiment echoed by other analysts. He said Cain can "approach this with humility and sincerity" and people will listen. "Iowans are fair."

Cain will be in Iowa on November 19 for an event sponsored by Vander Plaats called the Family Leader Forum. An expected 2,500 potential caucus-goers will be in attendance, and Cain will surely have to address the issue in some form.

In a column on CNN.com, Republican strategist and CNN contributor Bill Bennet writes that Cain needs to address the charges.

“If Herman Cain cannot stand up to these charges, if he refuses to, then he should step out of the race," Bennett writes. "A man big enough to run for president should be big enough to have a full and candid press conference on all of this–he wants us to elect him President after all, he's asking us to trust our lives and the country's life to him. This could be one of his finest moments and it could be one of his worst. But either way, he must confront the moment candidly and manfully.”


Filed under: 2012 • Herman Cain
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Wendilynn

    IF Herman Cain had come out and said, "ten years ago I was a jerk and I've learned my lesson" none of this would be a big deal. We know what goes on in Washington with favors adn such. Many a man has womanized his share of employees thinking he was the big man on campus. Its an old story. But so are these incidences. They happened years ago. A man can learn, but he is showing that he hasn't learned his lessons. I wasn't big on voting for him anyway because he talks like a loon, this just clinches the noose.

    November 7, 2011 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  2. Busted

    I thought this was going to be insightful until I read the criticism from the other "republicans" that: "Cain's dual message of attacking the media – and not answering more detailed questions..." and I realized the people criticizing him either aren't really republicans or are just RINOs. If republicans aren't attacking the media, then they aren't representing anything.

    November 7, 2011 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  3. Mike Dallas

    "Both Vander Plaats and a national Republican activist who requested anonymity said Cain's dual message of attacking the media – and not answering more detailed questions about the four women who have come forward accusing him of inappropriate behavior when Cain headed the National Restaurant Association – is fueling more controversy."

    Only 2 GOP spin masters could use that many words to simply say "Cain is lying".

    spin

    November 7, 2011 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  4. Nash

    Cain should address this quickly. It is not like his rivals or the public will empathize with his situation and give him a free pass to the White House! To be frank Cain is just now recognizing (or about to recognize) that it takes intense scrutiny to be POTUS. It is a good lesson for someone who assumed he could hoodwink the Republican base by bashing minorities (especially Blacks) on his way to the White House. I predict that his fifteen minutes are up and it is time for him to stop embarrassing himself and his family. Cain should get off his high horse and get back to what he knows best best, preferably to making pizza.

    November 7, 2011 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  5. vc

    Cain cannot afford to avoid answering the allegations that has been formed against him. Just tell truth and sometimes that hurt.

    November 7, 2011 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  6. BigJim

    In many posts cain supporters say he is being found guilty without the chance to defend himself but isnt that what happens when a person who is faced with accusation like cain faced and chooses NOT to go to court where facts and witnesses can be presented and a legal decision made but instead chooses to settle out court in other words pays the accuser to shut up and go away.

    November 7, 2011 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |