Sunday night, Herman Cain’s campaign denied reports that the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO and GOP presidential frontrunner had engaged in sexually suggestive behavior with two female employees during his tenure as head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s.
“The women complained of sexually suggestive behavior by Cain that made them angry and uncomfortable, the sources said, and they signed agreements with the restaurant group that gave them financial payouts to leave the association. The agreements also included language that bars the women from talking about their departures,” according to Politico.com.
Confronted on the trail today by Politico’s Jonathan Martin, Cain refused to comment even asking the reporter whether he had ever been accused of sexual harassment. A spokesman immediately called the accusations “garbage” and “a total distraction.”
Politico sited sources that had first-hand knowledge of the accusations and eventual settlements.
“These incidents include conversations allegedly filled with innuendo or personal questions of a sexually suggestive nature, taking place at hotels during conferences, at other officially sanctioned restaurant association events and at the association’s offices. There were also descriptions of physical gestures that were not overtly sexual but that made women who experienced or witnessed them uncomfortable and that they regarded as improper in a professional relationship,” the article read.
Cain served as the president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association from 1996 to 1999. It is this experience as well as his tenure as CEO of Godfather’s Pizza that Cain has used to attract supporters.
Cain has repeatedly billed himself as a businessman and problem-solver as opposed to a politician. In a week of heavy campaigning in Texas and Alabama, Cain told sold out dinners and large rallies, “Maybe we need to do something other than send a politician to Washington.”
But with these latest sexual harassment allegations, Cain may be more politician than he is ready to admit.
It remains to be seen how these new revelations of Cain’s past will affect his momentum. He just placed first in a Des Moines Register poll.
Most of his competitors have refused to comment on the allegations, though Rep. Ron Paul weighed in by attacking him on his stance on the Federal Reserve.
“We plan to beat Herman Cain on the issues, like his support for TARP and his cozy relationship with the Federal Reserve, not by assaulting his character,” his campaign told ABC News.
In a statement, Cain’s campaign said “Fearing the message of Herman Cain, who is shaking up the political landscape in Washington, inside the beltway media have begun to launch unsubstantiated personal attacks on Cain.”
They went on to call the allegations “thinly sourced” and rejected the story as a “movie”.
“Sadly, we’ve seen this movie played out before — a prominent Conservative targeted by liberals simply because they disagree with his politics. Mr. Cain — and all Americans, deserve better.”
Back in May, Cain told the Washington Examiner, “They’re going to come after me more viciously than they would a white candidate.”
“And so, to use Clarence Thomas as an example, I’m ready for the same high-tech lynching that he went through — for the good of this country. I’m ready for the same high-tech lynching.”