A Herman Cain First: Candidate and Staff Skip Spin Room Completely
ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe, Susan Archer, Emily Friedman and Arlette Saenz report:
ROCHESTER, Mich. – After all of the eight previous Republican debates to date, Herman Cain was one of the few candidates to appear in the post-debate spin room himself, taking questions from media rather than sending a surrogate in his place.
The businessman, currently trying to bat down accusations of sexual harassment, was not anywhere to be found in the spin room following Wednesday’s debate here at Oakland University in Rochester, Mich.
It was the first time Cain has skipped a spin room this year, an aspect of debate night he typically relishes.
In fact, nobody from Cain’s camp of representatives came to the spin tonight, his corner of the room completely void of staffers.
Reporters lingered by the door, hoping to catch a glimpse of Cain, only spotting his chief of staff Mark Block peering into the glass doors of the room but never entering.
Cain’s habit of coming to the spin room at debates is a rarity among his fellow candidates.
While Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman are regular attendees, Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann never come. Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul also avoid the spin room, instead sending spokespeople in their place.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has also never before been seen in the spin room this debate cycle, made a rare appearance tonight to confront his debate flub.
In Iowa in August, Cain hit the spin room, talking to reporters about the importance of young voters.
“I’m thrilled that at many of my rallies and the stops we’ve done on the bus tour, we’ve got a lot of young people showing up,” he said.
In Tampa in September, Cain ripped the media for trying to write him off as a top-tier candidate in the GOP race.
“The media is attempting to boil this down to a two or three-person race. That’s what the media is trying to do. Not everybody. You guys are fine. I’m talking about the ones who are trying to do that,” he said to reporters. “However, I know first-hand that the American people aren’t going to allow the media to pick the next nominee or I wouldn’t be getting the reception that I get all over this country.”
Cain promptly went on a tear, surging up the polls and asserting himself as a force to be reckoned with in the race for the nomination.
But in late October, with Cain at the top of some polls, the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO was suddenly forced to address allegations of sexual harassment dating back to his time at the National Restaurant Association.
After a series of confusing and inaccurate responses to the allegations, as well as accusations that a rival campaign had planted the story, Cain’s campaign went underground, attempting to avoid questions about the claims.
On Tuesday he surfaced, giving an exclusive one-on-one interview to ABC News’ Jon Karl for ABC News and Yahoo and then holding a press conference in Arizona.
But when it came time to return to the spin room tonight – where he was sure to face a slew of questions from reporters about the allegations – Cain apparently elected to steer clear. He appeared on Greta Van Susteren’s show instead.