Iowa Radio Host Steve Deace Calls Herman Cain ‘Compromised In His Private Life’
ABC News’ Michael Falcone, Shushannah Walshe and Arlette Saenz report:
DES MOINES, Iowa — A conservative Iowa radio host, who on Wednesday became the latest person to accuse Herman Cain of acting inappropriately toward women, declined to offer specifics about the presidential candidate’s behavior but suggested that Cain was “compromised in his private life.”
Steve Deace, who hosts a syndicated two-hour radio program in Iowa, said that two of his female staff members were subjected to “inappropriate and awkward” comments by Cain. But he refused to identify them or elaborate on the seriousness of the allegations.
After his show on Wednesday night, Deace held an impromptu press conference outside his Des Moines studio while his two female staff members rushed out of the building, escorted by two men who attempted to keep reporters away.
One of the women was identified to ABC News by an independent source as a victim of the behavior Deace mentioned. Both of the women repeatedly refused to comment on anything related to the controversy.
Deace, an influential conservative figure in the state, declined to say whether he had the women’s consent before going public with the allegations, but added, “As a staff we are very tight and we are very close and we share everything with one another.”
“To bring up any further evidence or to add any more specifics really puts the burden on our staff and not really where the burden of proof for the American people belongs which is with the guy running for President of the United States,” Deace said.
The radio host also refused to say whether Cain’s behavior constituted sexual harassment, an allegation that has surfaced separately against the presidential candidate in connection with his work at the National Restaurant Association during the late 1990's.
“I would say it’s inappropriate and it’s awkward that’s what I would say,” Deace told reporters on Wednesday night.
He did not specify exactly when he witnessed the “inappropriate” behavior on Cain’s part but did say he first met the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO at a Tea Party rally on July 4, 2009. “Never even heard the name before that,” Deace said.
However, Deace indicated that the incident in question happened much more recently.
During a telephone town hall meeting organized by a Tea Party group on Wednesday night, Cain called Deace’s statements “absolutely ridiculous,” but the Iowa radio personality did not back off the allegations.
“When a man will not lead it is almost always because he is compromised in his private life — almost always,” Deace said. “That has been my experience in general, regardless of your subculture, race, creed color, what part of the country you come from that a lot of times when you’re wondering why a man will not show moral consistency and step up and lead it’s because he’s compromised in his private life.”
He said that Cain’s behavior should be a signal to Republicans everywhere to more thoroughly scrutinize him.
“Do we really know who this gentleman is? Do we really know?” Deace said. “That’s a question everybody ought to be asking themselves before they go vote for the first time in these primaries.”
“Herman Cain should have lost the Republican nomination before Politico even came out with this story on Sunday,” he said. “Herman Cain should have been done.”
Deace blamed the controversy on Cain’s campaign manager, Mark Block, who alluded to Deace’s allegations in an appearance at a conference in Washington, DC on Tuesday. Block’s comments and the ensuing controversy was first reported by Politico.
“The fact that Mark Block is still being paid as someone’s campaign strategist is an insult to capitalism,” Deace said. “One of the things I’ve heard Herman Cain say quite a bit on the campaign stump is to judge him by the people he surrounds himself with and that he employs. And when a story is about to blow over and your own campaign strategist decided to open up an entire can of worms that is either stupidity or sabotage.”
As recently as this summer, the Des Moines Register described Deace as a “conservative blowtorch” and “particularly influential with Christian conservatives in Iowa.” However, GOP sources in Iowa said that Deace’s influence has waned since he left a major state radio station to host the syndicated show that is live-streamed on the Internet.