Facing a controversy that has the potential to either topple his presidential hopes or simply embolden his supporters, Herman Cain has spent the past 24 hours offering a meandering series of recollections about sexual harassment allegations leveled against him more than a decade ago.
His lack of clarity threatened to further complicate an already dicey situation for his campaign that began late Sunday night when Politico surfaced accusations of harassment against Cain during his tenure as head of the National Restaurant Association.
“In all of my over 40 years of business experience, running businesses and corporations, I have never sexually harassed anyone,” Cain said in an appearance at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on Monday, adding that the entire episode amounted to a “witch hunt.”
But that’s where his consistency ended.
“I am unaware of any sort of settlement,” Cain said, referring to reported payouts to two women who worked with him in the 1990′s. “I hope it wasn’t for money because I didn’t do anything.” http://abcn.ws/uBYU2m
But in a series of television interviews later in the day, Cain’s hazy memory of the events appeared to clear up.
“We ended up settling for what would have been a termination settlement quite frankly,” he told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren, adding that the amounts of the payments were “maybe three months salary.”
And not long after that, in an interview with PBS’ Judy Woodruff, Cain offered this explanation: “I was aware an agreement was reached. The word ‘settlement’ versus the word ‘agreement’ you know, I’m not sure what they called it,” he said.
His attempts to sweep away the allegations raised more questions than answers. When Cain was asked in the PBS interview if he ever met one of the women in a hotel room during a Restaurant Association conference, he did not give a flat out “no.”
“That I absolutely do not recall. You know, I have no recollection of that,” Cain said.
Pressed by Woodruff on whether he ever behaved inappropriately, Cain hedged again.
“In my opinion, no,” he said. “But as you would imagine, it’s in the eye of the person who thinks that maybe I crossed the line.”
Can’s dissembling represents a marked departure from his straight-talking persona on the campaign trail, but we still don’t know whether it spells disaster for his campaign or if it’s just a bump in the road. Will either of the two women who received monetary settlements speak publicly? Are there any other shoes to drop? If the answer to both of those questions is ‘no’, it’s hard to see this story get much more traction — even with Cains’ inconsistencies.
And then there’s this reality check from the Des Moines Register’s Jennifer Jacobs: “The Des Moines Register spoke by phone with more than 20 likely Republican caucusgoers who participated in the Oct. 23-26 Iowa Poll, and none said the allegations had moved them to reject Cain as a potential pick.” http://bit.ly/u0Tt7W
Remember that just a few days ago Cain was riding high after the results of the newspaper’s poll of Iowa voters found Cain edging out Mitt Romney in the state 23 percent to 22 percent. And Cain’s Iowa campaign chief, Steve Grubbs, went so far as to tweet that the controversy was doing wonders for the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO’s campaign in the Hawkeye State.
“Friday the Iowa Cain team signed 25 precinct captains,” Grubbs noted. “Today, 40. Iowa Cain campaign has been energized by today’s events.”
TODAY IN CAIN WORLD. The presidential candidate has a full schedule of media appearances on Tuesday. Here’s a rundown:
9:30am: Laura Ingraham’s radio show
10:00am: An interview with CNN’s Robin Meade
6:00pm: Fox News’ Bret Baier
8:00pm: Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor”
Can campaign aides also say the candidate has meetings on Capitol Hill.
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO HERMAN. ABC’s Z. Byron Wolf highlights one of the more interesting moments of Cain’s appearance at the National Press Club in Washington yesterday. As Wolf notes, “he burst into song at the end. The song, ‘He Looked Beyond My Faults,’ was written by Dottie Rambo. Watch Cain’s performance at the end of a news conference in Washington.” WATCH: http://abcn.ws/sCirKN
Twitter: The Political Sex Scandal Response Tool of the 21st Century. “While Cain’s response, like many other aspects of his campaign, has not been textbook, he has embraced the speed of social media in reacting to what could be a devastating story,” ABC’s Amy Bingham notes. http://abcn.ws/tkOxB3
ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE”: WHICH RICH? ABC’s Amy Walter interviews Rich Lowrie, Herman Cain’s economic advisor and the architect of the 9-9-9 plan. Also on the program, Rich Lowry, the National Review’s online editor. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern. http://abcn.ws/toplineliveabc
SUPER PAC BACKING RICK PERRY GOES ON THE AIR. “Make Us Great Again, the super PAC supporting Texas Governor Rick Perry’s presidential bid, will begin airing its first television ads of the campaign cycle in Iowa and South Carolina this week,” ABC’s Arlette Saenz reports. “A source with Make us Great Again told ABC News the pro-Perry group will spend a combined total of $382,000 in ads in Iowa and South Carolina this week. The first ad in South Carolina, which is called “Leadership,” will begin running on broadcast and cable Tuesday through Oct. 10 and will air in the Columbia and Greenville-Spartanburg markets with a total of $180,000 spent on TV spots in the Palmetto State. The bulk of the ad buy will focus on Iowa, where the Perry campaign already has ads of their own airing. The Make Us Great Again ad, called “Conservative,” will first air in Iowa on Wednesday and run through Oct. 12. The super PAC will pour $57,000 into ads in Cedar Rapids, $64,000 in Des Moines-Ames, and $29,000 in the Omaha market, which expands into Western Iowa. The ads released by Make Us Great Again carry a positive tone, explaining Perry’s early career as a tenant farmer and service in the Air Force along with his accomplishments in Texas, balancing the budget, cutting spending, and passing lawsuit reform, which they argue have led to one out come.” http://abcn.ws/thme2O
RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION WON’T ENDORSE CAIN. “The National Restaurant Association considered endorsing Herman Cain’s presidential campaign just weeks before POLITICO reported that two association employees accused him of sexual harassment when he served as the group’s CEO in the late 1990s,” Politico’s Ken Vogel and Anna Palmer report. “But now, as the association deals with the fallout from the allegations against him, it’s trying to tamp down on discussion of Cain and his tenure. In an email to its board members Monday, the association urged them not to talk to the press. And association staff is refusing to answer questions about the allegations even as Cain directs inquiries to them. Meanwhile, most board members continue to defend Cain and vow support.” http://politi.co/utJIFW
RICK PERRY GONE WILD (AND VIRAL). “Texas Governor Rick Perry has gotten some attention that’s made him go viral. A YouTube video of his most animated speech of the campaign cycle has posted over 410,000 hits by Tuesday morning. Perry delivered a lively speech at the Cornerstone Action Dinner in Manchester, New Hampshire where he talked about the similarities in the state’s slogans and even poked a little fun at opponent Herman Cain,” ABC’s Arlette Saenz reports. “‘This is such a cool state. I mean c’mon. ‘Live free or die.’ You gotta love that right?’ Perry said Friday. ‘I come from a state you know where they have this little place called the Alamo and they declared ‘Victory or death.’ We’re kind of into those slogans – ‘Live free or die.’ ‘Victory or death.’ ‘Bring it.’ Posted Saturday, the video received nearly 90,000 hits by Monday morning and jumped to over 410,000 Tuesday morning. It was touted by FOX News as a “must watch” video and featured on the website Gawker.” WATCH: http://bit.ly/tvHIcE
BACHMANN ‘OUT OF MONEY AND IDEAS’ FORMER AIDE SAYS. Michele Bachmann has “run out of money and ideas” and can no longer expect to win in Iowa, her former campaign manager told ABC News’ Russell Goldman on Monday. Ed Rollins, who left the campaign in September, said the Minnesota congresswoman had backed off earlier comments by her campaign that Iowa was a ‘must-win” state because she lacked the finances, campaign structure, and ideas to win the first-in-the-nation caucus state. “She’s still saying the same things she said in the first the debate. There’s no substance. She says, ‘I’m going to repeal Obamacare.’ But she’s been saying that from Day 1. I told her: That’s your Tea Party speech, now you have to say what you’re going to do next.” In an interview Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Bachmann refused to say whether Iowa was a “must win” state as her current campaign manager, Keith Nahigian, had said. Nahigian took over after Rollins left. http://abcn.ws/stA4hW
2012 PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES SET. “The first of three televised debates will be on Oct. 3 at the University of Denver. A town hall meeting-style debate will be held on Oct. 16 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. The final meeting, at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., will be on Oct. 22 — just two weeks before election day on Nov. 6,” reports the Los Angeles Times’ Mike Memoli. “The vice presidential nominees will debate only once, on Oct. 11 at Centre College in Danville, Ky. The nonprofit commission, which has organized the debates since 1987, has also set criteria for participation. A candidate must appear on enough state ballots to mathematically be able to reach the 270 electoral votes required to win, and also poll at at least 15% of the national electorate in five major public polls. The full format for each debate, along with the moderators, will be announced in 2012.” http://lat.ms/tMKPF6
ABORTION DEBATE CAUSES WHITE HOUSE-CATHOLIC RIFT. “A contentious battle between Catholic groups and the Obama administration has flared in recent days, fueled by the new health-care law and ongoing divisions over access to abortion and birth control,” reports the Washington Post’s Jerry Markon. “The latest dispute centers on a decision by the Department of Health and Human Services in late September to end funding to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to help victims of human trafficking, or modern-day slavery. The church group had overseen nationwide services to victims since 2006 but was denied a new grant in favor of three other groups. The bishops organization, in line with the church’s teachings, had refused to refer trafficking victims for contraceptives or abortion. The American Civil Liberties Union sued, and HHS officials said they made a policy decision to award the grants to agencies that would refer women for those services. The bishops conference is threatening legal action and accusing the administration of anti-Catholic bias, which HHS officials deny.” http://wapo.st/vpCRAi
OBAMA IS ‘FIT AT FIFTY’ “Forget the rumors that he has been sneaking cigarettes; President Obama is “tobacco free,” the president’s doctor said in reporting the results of the president’s second physical since he took office,” The New York Times’ Helene Cooper notes. “In a two-page report released by the ‘first doctor,’ Dr. Jeffrey C. Kuhlman gave the president a strong bill of health, saying he was a physically active 50-year-old who eats a healthy diet (the president regularly cites the influence of the first lady, Michelle Obama, for that one), stays at a healthy weight and ‘on occasion drinks alcohol,’ in moderation. ‘The president is in excellent health and fit for duty,’ Dr. Kuhlman said. ‘All clinical data indicate he will remain so for the duration of his presidency.’ In addition, Dr. Kuhlman praised Mr. Obama — an avid golfer and basketball player — as ‘fit at 50′ and ‘staying healthy at 50+.’” http://nyti.ms/us3dXW
@pfeiffer44: President Obama will continue his exec actions today by declaring Ft Monroe in Va a national monument, which will create jobs in the area
* Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul attend a GOP Presidential Forum Hosted by National Association of Manufacturers at the Vermeer Corporation in Pella, Iowa. It will be moderated by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad.
* Rick Perry holds a meet and greet at Drake Diner in Des Moines and participates in a town hall meeting at the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines in the afternoon.
* Rick Santorum holds meet and greets at Monarch’s Restaurant in Pella, Iowa, the Albia Public Library in Albia, Iowa, the Drake Public Library in Centerville and the Oasis Coffee Shop in Bloomfield. He also participates in a “Reclaim Iowa Rally” in Marshalltown in the evening.
* Ron Paul holds a meet and greet at Smokey Row in Oskaloosa, Iowa and a town hall meeting at Bridge View Center in Ottumwa.
* Jon Huntsman tours the University of New Hampshire Cogeneration Plant in Durham, N.H. He also delivers an energy policy speech at the university in the afternoon.
* Michele Bachmann addresses the Iowa Association of Independent Baptists Conference in Marshalltown, Iowa in the evening.
* Mitt Romney has no public events.
Check out The Note’s Futures Calendar: http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV
* Get The Note delivered to your inbox every day.