Affair Story Could Change Minds

Herman Cain may not have impressed pundits with his handling of the sexual harassment and assault charges that were leveled at him with no proof, and in some cases no names attached to the victims.  But he has managed to keep many of his loyal supporters from losing faith.  Support from Cain’s wife and his own direct denials turned a potentially ugly situation into a he said/she said where his supporters had a reason to rally around him and his detractors simply had one more negative thing to say about him.

Now, someone who Cain describes as someone he thought was a friend is coming out and alleging a 13 year affair with Cain.  Cain apparently had knowledge ahead of time that she was going to come out and attempted a pre-emptive denial.  The big difference here is that Cain did know her, remembers that he knows her, knew she was going to come out with this allegation, and considered her a friend.  People who you think are your friends don’t usually make up stories about 13 year affairs.

The problem with this story is that if it changes peoples’ minds about Cain’s character, then every other dismissed accusation is back on the table.  If Cain did it and decides to come clean and admit to an affair, he can forget the support and especially the trust of his supporters.  If he continues to deny this affair, he will keep his loyal supporters but may not gain enough support back to regain relevance.

The best thing that could happen for Cain’s campaign at this point is for one of the women who made accusations to come out apologetically admitting that she made the story up.  Either that, or an alibi.

Cain Confirms he Did Not sexually Harass Anyone and Does Not Know About Any Financial Settlement

Bookmark and Share   In a late morning interview on Fox News, Herman Cain offered his first effective responses to a Politico report that he was accused of sexual harassment in the 90’s when he served as president of the National Restaurant Association.

Acording to Cain, he made three critical points.  First, Cain makes clear that he never sexually harrassed anyone.  Two; he was falsely accused of sexual harrassment by two women during his time at the National Restaurant Association, but inestigations found the accusations to be baseless.  The third and now the most tricky clarification made by Cain is his denying that he ever knew about any settlement made by the National Restaurant Association with the two accusers.

Cain state’s that if someone under him did reach such a settlement, he hopes they did not pay much for it, because the charges were baseless, but he adds, he does not know of any such arrangements.

Politico reports that the National Restaurant Association paid the two female litigants an undisclosed amount of money and in return agreed to a termination of their ties to the lobbying group and would never discuss the matter.

Of all the clarifications the one that could produce the most trouble for Cain, is the one in which he claims to be unaware of an settlement with the the two women who accused him of harassing them.

If anyone from the restaurant lobbying group comes forward with evidence that confirm a conflicting report that Cain did know about the settlement, this story will continue to grow and could consume Cain’s candidacy, regardless of his innocence or guilt regarding sexual harassment allegations.

From a purely political and strategic point, so far this incident is one of the first signs of the negative aspect of his not being a politician.  Up to now, a large part of Cain’s popularity has been due to his not be a politician.  And while that is a good thing, in politics it has a down side.  The lack of political experience that is shared by both Cain and his campaign organization leaves him  at a disadvantage when it comes to effectively handling political bombshells such as this.

In politics, the blast from an explosive story like this has the same damaging affects regardless of whether that which detonates the explosion is true or not.  The way the campaign handles the aftermath of the explosive details, is the ultimate determination of how it affects his candidacy. 

In this case, the Cain campaign knew that Politico was investigating this story for as much as ten days prior to their posting it on the internet.  A skilled campaign team would have undermined the story and either come out ahead of it, or gotten together with legal representatives of the National Restaurant Association and sat down with Politico to present them a convincing case for their being no validity to the charges.  An even better thing to do would have been to both sit down with Politico and also come out with the story in advance of them. 

By not going with any of those alternatives, Cain now rightly or wrongly sits in the hot seat.  And if it can be proven that the National Restaurant Association did  reach a financial settlement with two individuals who falsely accused Cain of sexual harassment, and that Herman Cain did know about, Cain will not come out of this a winner.  If that happens, his credibility will be significantly undermined.  At the moment, I tend to think that the next shoe to drop will deal with whether there was a settlement and if there was, as President of the restaurant association, how could he have not known about it.  Then the question becomes, why did Cain deny knowing about it.

Now, in more ways than one, is the moment of truth for the Cain campaign. 

If his campaign does not handle this situation deftly and put it to rest quickly, he will find that while being an outsider has its advantages in politics, cats can’t bark and dogs can’t meow.

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