November 11th, 2011
04:40 PM ET
11 years ago

Cain faces pushback over Anita Hill remark

(CNN) - Herman Cain wouldn't answer questions Friday afternoon about a comment he made regarding Anita Hill, the law school professor whose sexual harassment allegations against then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in 1991 made national headlines.

"I want to get back on message. That's not on message," Cain told reporters outside a fundraising event in New York City. "I want to fix this economy so people can go back to work–not continue all this attention of stuff that does not matter."

Cain, who's been embroiled in allegations of inappropriate behavior from his time leading the National Restaurant Association, was at a campaign event on Thursday in Michigan, where he was jokingly asked if he had heard from Hill.

In the moment, caught on camera by Fox News, the Republican presidential candidate bent over chuckling and quipped, "Is she going to endorse me?" The rest of the room then erupted with laughter.

While the initial question that prompted Cain's response was inaudible in the video, the candidate confirmed in a radio interview Friday that he was asked about being contacted by Hill.

"It in no way was intended to be an insult towards Anita Hill or anybody else," Cain said on Fred Dicker's radio show.

Cain, instead, insisted the media was zeroing-in on him in an attack strategy he termed "flyspecking."

"Any word I say is now gonna be flyspecked by somebody and somebody who does not support Herman Cain," he said. "They're going to try to spin it into a negative."

Cain faced questions Friday over how he handled the "Anita Hill" comment, given the comparison that some have made between Cain's situation and the Thomas-Hill showdown.

Several Cain supporters have painted the GOP White House hopeful as a black conservative victimized by those on the left who may be unhappy with an African American running as a Republican.

A super political action committee backing Cain released an ad last week, telling viewers that Thomas went through a similar so-called "high-tech lynching" when Hill's allegations raised serious questions about the nominee.

The ad ended with an on-screen message: "Don't let the left do it again."

Cain has repeatedly denied that he's ever sexually harassed anyone, calling the accusations false and "baseless" in multiple media appearances as well as a press conference.

Meanwhile, some on both the right and left have questioned Cain's handling of the nearly-two week ordeal. On Friday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a rival for the Republican presidential nomination, argued that now is not the time to be making jokes.

"I think if you look at the concerns we have, about issues like sexual harassment, look at the tragedy at Penn state, if you look at how people feel in general about this kind of stuff, it's not something to joke about," Gingrich said on Laura Ingraham's radio show.

- CNN's Kevin Liptak and Rebecca Stewart contributed to this report.

Also see:

Poll: Three-way battle for GOP nomination

Gingrich: Not running for 'super governor'

Bachmann: Protesters were 'ignorant' and 'disrespectful'

Filed under: 2012 • Clarence Thomas • Herman Cain
soundoff (71 Responses)
  1. v_mag

    You have to have faith in the short and foggy memory of Americans to bring up the Clarence Thomas hearings in support of Herman Cain. Professor Hill was the one who got lynched, by a mob of Repugnant senators. She had no motive to expose herself to that degrading treatment other than to protect America from the likes of Thomas, and time has shown that we should have heeded her warning.

    Thomas has been an ethical disaster and an extreme embarrassment on the court. Herman Cain would be even worse in the White House, and luckily, almost everybody knows that.

    November 11, 2011 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  2. kayla

    suddenly this bull frog think he's a prince

    November 11, 2011 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  3. Luke Brown

    Is this guy for real??? The Democrats must be the ones pushing for Herman to be the GOP nominee. The Disgust Factor alone will propel Obama to another four year term.

    November 11, 2011 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  4. Lenny Pincus

    BTW, anyone who continually refers to himself in the third person is an egomaniac.

    November 11, 2011 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  5. otermbachmann

    Well that comment is worth at least 10 million in donations from the sick right-wing neocons.

    November 11, 2011 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  6. Charles W. Skinner

    You actually HAVE to joke about the baseless, trumped-up "accusations" (if you can even call them that) which these women have leaked out about Herman Cain. There has not been ONE shred of proof, not one in the 150+ "stories" masquerading as "journalism" from the Politico slime-ball writers.

    Cain should continue to joke about it until EVERYBODY is laughing at Politico for the shoddy work that they have done.

    November 11, 2011 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  7. John

    Sure Herman Cain don't want to talk about It. And that because he Know he Getting away with It. People should be ashamed to support this man or even vote for this man. And the people that do support this man Is just has sick has he Is.

    November 11, 2011 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  8. likeaglove

    Oh, CNN is OFFENDED. What a bunch of pansies. You go around trolling for something - ANYTHING - you can be offended over. There's a reason that your network is joke. This is exhibit one.

    November 11, 2011 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  9. rad4d

    Good lord. When is the media going to get back to reporting news?

    November 11, 2011 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  10. Ken

    Three payouts, Anita and Princess Nancy??? Man – you REALLY don't like (or respect) women!!!!!

    November 11, 2011 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  11. Darla (Edmonton, Canada)

    Herman Cain keeps demonstrating his utter contempt for women. How can he look the women in his immediate family (wife, daughter, grand-daughters, etc.) in the eye? He should be ashamed ... God knows these women must be ashamed of and embarrassed by him.

    November 11, 2011 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  12. Rob in MO

    Hill's accusations about Thomas were true. Even people who were initially critical of her have acknowledged this after looking at all the evidence. The Left has had nothing to do with the charges against Cain. They were first made by a conservative news source, and the identified accuser is a republican. Most liberals would love to see Cain get the nomination. They don't want to damage his campaign at this point. That would come later if he gets the nomination.

    November 11, 2011 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  13. BK

    I figured that his big mouth would eventually get him in trouble, but I didn't count on his roaming hands doing the same.

    November 11, 2011 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  14. John Nemesh

    I dont care if he is black...or yellow or purple! I care that this guy seems to be a total idiot and has no clue how to fix the economy! I care that he thinks that the 9-14% of unemployed Americans are "lazy"! I care that he molests women, then LIES about it! There are sooooo many reasons to hate Hermain Cain. His being black isnt even on the list!

    November 11, 2011 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  15. Jilli

    Heck, comments like Cains make him a republican hero. I'd expect nothing less from the party that has been waging war on women and womens health. It shows a true lack of respect of women by cain and his party. The closest this clown will get to the white house is if he takes a tour. He's horribly unqualified.

    November 11, 2011 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  16. Ellen, Michigan

    I live right down the hill from where the teapublican debate was held this week. There was such a strange, dark clouds and frightening, wicked wind blowing through the town which reminded me of the old 'Omen' movie. The next day it was
    sunny whithout a cloud in the sky. I thought about 999 turned upside down. Strange indeed.

    November 11, 2011 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  17. Santa Fean

    Clarence Thomas is a horrible judge. Anita Hill was telling the truth. Thomas is a total stooge for Corporate America....just like Cain.

    November 11, 2011 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  18. LNB

    Kochcain he maka me sick...

    November 11, 2011 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  19. normajean @ verizon ,com

    I cannot believe the Republican party is standing by and letting two amoral ,disgusting men be candidates for president. Cain and Gingrich are the kind of men that are so corrupt and lacking in character,decency or any quality that we would want running our country.You people that would vote for people like this should do some deep thinking about raising your families in a country with one of these men in charge. They are beyond any decency or morality that we would expect from our leaders. Things are bad enough economically.....don't make it worse by voting in one of these nightmares!!!!

    November 11, 2011 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  20. GI Joe

    Can any of you actually picture Cain on the World stage? Seriously?

    He intimidates, ridicules, and harrasses women. He doesn't even use proper English most of the time.

    It's YO fault Hermie.

    November 11, 2011 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  21. once upon a horse

    there are places here in the ol' red state of Texas where Herman Cain's accusers would be believed even if they made the whole thing up. And YES it's all due to RACE. Sad but true. When the face pictures of some of the accusers came out there were those who say he REALLY crossed the line then. Now had the accusers looked more like Anita Hill then there would have been less of a problem.

    November 11, 2011 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  22. Noodle Nose Johnson

    I, personally, love this guy. The more he opens his mouth, the farther his foot goes in, and the higher his support from conservatives gets. He's basically a walking, talking billboard screaming "The GOP is completely out of touch".

    November 11, 2011 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  23. sara

    Cain is Big P.I. M. P. 'N. His hat and the takedown of women, and sending those Teabaggers to the bank ....send me 5, send me 10, send me 25

    November 11, 2011 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  24. Clwyd

    One after another the 8 loony tune republicans keep showing us why we have to pray to God they don't get in!

    November 11, 2011 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  25. Etta Goldman

    Will somebody please tell me how anyone can support these GOP idiots? OK... if you're super rich, mean, inhumane,
    and utterly stupid, I get it. otherwise, there's no excuse. How did our country get so low as to even consider these
    oafs for president?

    November 11, 2011 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
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