Bumbling Republican frontrunner Herman Cain barely had a moment to enjoy a celebratory gust of second-hand smoke after squeezing ahead of the pack at the Iowa caucuses when Politico detonated a giant stink-bomb of an exclusive: Two women who had worked with Cain when he headed the National Restaurant Association in the '90s complained to co-workers and senior association officials of "inappropriate" and "sexually suggestive" behavior directed at them by Cain.
The women were offered financial payouts to leave the lobbying group; the deal also barred them from ever speaking out about the incidents again. Asked to confirm the settlements, Cain spokesman J.D. Gordon offered that it sounded "vaguely familiar." Later, in a statement to the New York Times, he called the claims "thinly sourced allegations" and that the "political trade press are now casting aspersions on his character and spreading rumors that never stood up to the facts."
Politico reports that Cain was also confronted outside CBS News after his Face the Nation appearance today, where he responded, "I've had thousands of people working for me," and would not comment "until I see some facts or some concrete evidence." So they offered a name of one of the two women allegedly paid money not to tell the world that Herman Cain sexually harassed her in the workplace.
He responded, "I am not going to comment on that."
He was then asked, "Have you ever been accused, sir, in your life of harassment by a woman?"
He breathed audibly, glared at the reporter and stayed silent for several seconds. After the question was repeated three times, he responded by asking the reporter, "Have you ever been accused of sexual harassment?"