Embattled GOP frontrunner Herman Cain appeared on Fox News this morning, and gave his first interview since Politico broke the story of hushed-up sexual harassment allegations during Cain’s stint as CEO of the National Restaurant Association. During the interview, Cain continued his campaign’s strategy of laying the allegations off to NRA, telling Fox’s Jenna Lee that the allegations of sexual harassment were “baseless” and “false,” adding that if there was a cash settlement, he was “unaware of it.”
Following a disastrous appearance by his campaign spokesman Sunday night, and a carefully-parsed appearance by campaign manager Mark Block, Cain needed a virtuoso performance here. Cain made very clear in his denial that he had never sexually harassed anyone, though he admit knowledge of specific charges that he repeatedly called false.
Following is a rough transcript of the opening exchange (via TV Eyes):
Jenna Lee: Let’s start with the truth. that’s always the best place to start. What is the truth about these allegations of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct? Have you ever been accused at any time of either?
Herman Cain: I have never sexually harassed anyone, let’s say that. Secondly, I’ve never sexually harassed anyone, and yes, I was falsely accused while I was at the national restaurant association, and i say falsely, because it turned out, after the investigation, to be baseless. The people mentioned in that article were the ones who would be aware of any misdoings, and they have attested to my integrity and my character. It is totally baseless, and totally false, never have I committed any sort of sexual harassment.
Lee: Have you ever had to settle a claim, falsely accused or not, sometimes a settlement happens when a false accusation is made. have you ever had to settle a claim, giving money, or paid someone because a claim of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct.
Cain: Outside of the restaurant association, absolutely not. If the restaurant association did a settlement, I am not — i wasn’t even aware of it and I hope it wasn’t for much, because nothing happened. so if there was a settlement, it was handled by some of the other officers that worked for me at the association. So the answer is absolutely not.
Lee followed up by asking if there are any other future allegations like this that might come up. Cain initially declared “absolutely not” before leaving open the notion that there may be more to come with the clear caveat that they would be false.
Cain’s run at the top of the GOP polls has been far more durable than those of his predecessors, and it’s unclear if even this episode will decay his orbit significantly. The fervor around Cain is almost religious, and the conservative base is notoriously suspicious of the main pillars in this story: the media, litigation, and what they see as “politically correct” attitudes toward workplace behavior. For them, Cain’s reliance on Politico’s anonymous sourcing (despite rock-solid reporting) and the strength of those non-disclosure agreements, might just do the trick. The only place this is guranteed to hurt is with the GOP establishment, which isn’t with Cain to begin with.
Watch the interview below, courtesy of Fox News:
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