After a week of refusing to answer questions regarding sexual harassment allegations, GOP frontrunner Herman Cain appeared Friday afternoon on Fox News with Neil Cavuto to address sexual harassment allegations, his recent Anita Hill joke and opinions on a few of his rivals.
On Friday, following an event in Kalamazoo, Mich., Cain was caught joking with supporters about Anita Hill, wondering whether the lawyer who accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment in 1991, a case many are comparing to his ongoing scandal, would endorse him.
Cain told Cavuto that he found one of the comments from a supporter to be hilarious. Cain said of his joke, “That was funny. That was hilarious because I would never in my wildest dreams expect her to endorse me. He got a laugh out of it. I got a laugh out of it.”
Cain also addressed his irreverent sense of humor, a trademark of his stump speeches, where he often tells crowds that he’s never taken a course in political correctness.
At Thursday night’s debate, while discussing health care reform and repealing “Obamacare,” Cain called the former speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, “Princess Nancy.” Add that to a long list of “jokes” the presidential candidate has been faulted for making on the trail.
Asked whether he should dial back his humor now that he’s a serious contender in the GOP race, Cain said, “I do have to dial it back a little bit.”
“Herman is going to be Herman,” he said. “That’s all I’m gonna do. I never mean to offend anybody. It’s my natural personality. If I ever get to the point where I have to not be me in order to run, I’m not running. One of the things that people like is Herman is being Herman.”
Cain even mocked some of the less colorful candidates saying, “I know how to act the presidential image, if that’s what they want, and bore them to death like a lot of other people and speak political speak. No! People have connected with me ’cause it’s plain talk.”
As for new sexual harassment allegations beyond the two women who years ago filed formal complaints with the National Restaurant Association, Cain said he had “no idea” about them.
Cain reiterated that his wife Gloria continued to support him despite the new accusers.
He also maintained that even though he was the head of the National Restaurant Association, the complaints amounted to a “routine personnel matter” that he would not have known specifics about.
Cain defended his campaign’s handling of the scandal as conservative pundits and even some within the Tea Party call for Mark Block, Cain’s chief-of-staff, to step aside.
“We were contacted by Politico, who was trying to bait us into saying something when they didn’t identify the individuals, they didn’t have any documentation,” Cain said. “And so, as a businessman, it was my decision to my staff: Wait and see what they put out there. That’s like negotiating against yourself. They had no documentation. They hadn’t identified who these women were, and we were supposed to respond? No. So we waited. Then, when they put it out there, then I went on TV that Monday.”
As for those who think he may have mishandled responding to the allegations, Cain said, “That may be the case, but I would have rather got out front the next day so my supporters know I had nothing to hide.”
Cain did not back down from accusations that the Rick Perry campaign broke the story to Politico.
“We don’t know for sure, but when we look at all these coincidences: Is it a coincidence that my Senate political consultant now works for Rick Perry?” he asked.
Cain believes more people believe him than the accusations – demonstrated not only by written and verbal support, but by the doubling of donations to his campaign.
At his press conference last Tuesday, Cain offered to take a lie detector test. Today, Cain backed away from that offer.
Asked why, Cain said, “Why negotiate against yourself? When somebody comes forward and they have a claim against me and they’re willing to take a lie detector test, I’ll take a lie detector test. I’m not gonna take one against anonymous, no documentation. That’s not good business.”
As far as his closest contenders in the race, Cain said that he intended to win and was not looking to be anyone’s running mate. But he did not close the door completely.
Unlike Ron Paul, Cain also ruled out a third party run.
Of his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, Cain said, “He has a reputation of being a Wall Street guy, I have a reputation of being a Main Street guy” – a point that Cain has made at all of his campaign stops, saying that what Americans want in their next president is a businessman not a politician.
Speaking of his bus tour through Michigan, Cain seemed assured that Romney didn’t have Michigan “locked up,” suggesting that the standing-room turnout at all of his events indicated otherwise.