Herman Cain insisted today that Rick Perry’s campaign leaked sexual harassment allegations against him to the media, even after his chief of staff appeared to soften that claim earlier today.
“I don’t see another way it could’ve come out,” Cain said in an unannounced radio interview with conservative commentator Sean Hannity. ”There aren’t enough bread crumbs that we can lay down that leads us anywhere else at this point in time.”
Perry’s chief of staff, Mark Block, on Wednesday accused Curt Anderson, a Perry staffer who worked as a consultant on Cain’s 2004 failed Senate campaign, of wrongdoing and demanded an apology from the Texas governor. Anderson denied the charge on national TV.
Today, Block seemed to take a different approach, although in a confusing way.
“I will stand behind what we said yesterday and was, again, thrilled that Mr. Anderson said it didn’t come from him,” Mark Block said on Fox News today.
When asked to explain, Block would only say, “Until we get all the facts, you know, I’m just going to say that we accept what Mr. Anderson had said, and we want to move on with the campaign.”
Cain said Wednesday at a Tea Party town hall meeting that a reporter was able to trace the leak “back to the Perry campaign that stirred this up in order to discredit me, my campaign, and slow us down.”
Perry denied the accusation, telling RedState’s Eric Erickson that he found out about the allegations through the media, and that he’s disappointed by the “finger pointing going on.” Anderson also denied the charge and said on CNN this morning that he was being used as a pawn by the Cain campaign “to get him out of his mess that he’s in.”
At least four women have allegedly been the subject of inappropriate comments by Herman Cain, according to various reports.
Two of the women worked for Cain when he was head of the National Restaurant Association from 1996 to 1999, and settled with the organization after filing a work-place complaint.
One of those women got $45,000 as part of her settlement, Politico reported today, considerably higher than the three to six months of pay Cain said she got. A second received $35,000, equivalent to a year’s worth of pay, The New York Times reported earlier this week.
A third woman who worked there at the same time told the Associated Press on Wednesday that she didn’t file a complaint, but believed that Cain acted inappropriately and made her uncomfortable. The woman, who did not want to be identified, said Cain invited her to his corporate apartment.
A fourth claim came from pollster Chris Wilson, a Perry supporter and former National Restaurant Association employee, who said Cain made inappropriate comments to a woman while at a group dinner in Arlington, Va. But another employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told CBS News he did not see Cain act inappropriately with any woman that night.
Even conservative Iowa radio host Steve Deace said Cain made awkward and inappropriate remarks to the station’s female employees recently.
Cain has said he is only aware of one sexual harassment complaint, and that he was falsely accused. Cain insisted on Hannity today that he didn’t make any remarks other than comparing the woman’s height to his wife, who is 5 feet.
“This stuff is totally fabricated,” he said.
The former chief executive of Godfather’s Pizza blamed his opponents and the media for stirring the pot.
“That is the D.C. culture. Guilty until proven innocent,” Cain said in an interview late Wednesday with the Daily Caller’s Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Many conservatives have likened Cain’s story to Thomas, who, during his confirmation hearings in 1991, was accused of sexual harassment by Anita Hill, a law professor who had worked for Thomas.
A lawyer for one of the two women who filed a complaint against Cain said she did not want her story told for fear of becoming Hill. The woman is asking the National Restaurant Association to release a statement but will not speak to the media.
“I will be emailing the attorney for the National Restaurant Association a draft public statement for their review,” attorney Joel P. Bennett said in a statement today.
The National Restaurant Association said this afternoon that it will respond to the request by Friday.
Bennett told the New York Times that his client, now a federal government employee, does not feel comfortable speaking directly to the media.
“She’s not going to affirmatively make any public statements or public appearances about the case. Everything will be through me,” Bennett told the New York Times late Wednesday. “She has a life to live and a career, and she doesn’t want to become another Anita Hill.”
After a busy speaking and media tour in Washington, D.C., this week, Cain’s schedule has lightened up as his campaign goes on the offensive. The campaign today announced what it called its “Iowa Fund,” the goal of which is to raise $999,000 for the campaign’s Iowa operations.