Herman Cain Keeps Talking

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 2 2011 9:07 AM

Herman Cain Keeps Talking

Herman Cain's disaster recovery plan makes no sense. He could have copied John McCain's strategy in 2008, when the New York Times (mostly whiffed) a story about the senator and lobbyist Vicki Iseman, and given one long press conference that tuckered out the press. He could have decided that the names and stories of his accusors would come out eventually, and it was best to just comment, release them from their agreements, and comment after they'd done the circuit.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

That's not what he's done. Cain is in Washington all week for a planned circuit of speeches; he's piling on more interviews with the speeches. And he keeps talking and talking and talking about the harassment story. (Funny enough, he's never asked about the campaign finance story broken by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.) Instead of one statement, we have a daisy chain of comments that sound basically the same. No "changing story" here, just the same details repeated and repeated. Here's a quick guide to how consistent Cain has been able to stay.

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On the identiy of the accusers:

With Judy Woodruff, October 31:

Both of them reported to someone who reported to me at the National Restaurant Association. And so they were employees of the Restaurant Association... The other one, I never even knew that there was a claim, formally or otherwise. Totally have no idea.

With Greta Van Susteren, October 31:

The one that I am familiar with worked here in the Washington office. And I can't even remember her name because she had not been a long-term employee. But I do remember the formal allegations she made in terms of sexual harassment... She worked in one of our departments. It was -- she was -- she was a writer. She was in the communications area... I might see her in the office because her office was on the same floor as my office. But her boss was also there. I would go down and see her boss, and her boss would come and see me because he had an office on the same floor.

On how he reacted:

With Judy Woodruff, October 31:

One of them made a formal charge that I turned over to my general counsel to follow up on to get it resolved. He did, came back after several months and said, there`s no basis to it. She couldn`t find anyone to corroborate her story. So it was a false sexual harassment claim.

With Greta Van Susteren, October 31:

My general counsel came to my office and told me that she had made a claim. And I said, OK, what do we need to do? ... He just used the term sexual harassment claim... I just said, What do you mean sexual harassment? She's made some claims of sexual harassment. Now, he may have told me what incidents that she might have included in the claim, but all day today, as I've been getting beat up, I've been trying to recall what some of those things were and haven't been able to recall a lot of them because that's why they got dismissed. It was no basis because it was simple stuff.

On the charges themselves:

With Judy Woodruff, October 31:

One incident with the one who made the formal charge, the only one that I could recall, after a day of trying to remember specifics, was once I referenced this lady`s height. And I was standing near her. And I did this, saying, "You`re the same height as my wife," because my wife is 5 feet tall and she comes up to my chin. This lady is 5 feet tall, and she came up to my chin. So, obviously, she thought that that was too close for comfort. It showed up in the actual allegation. But, at the time when I did that, you know, it was in my office. The door was wide-open. And my secretary was sitting right there as we were standing there. And I made the little gesture.

With Greta Van Susteren, October 31:

Here's the one incident that I recall as the day has gone on. She was in my office one day, and I made a gesture saying, Oh -- and I was standing close to her. And I made a gesture, You're the same height as my wife, and brought my hand -- didn't touch her -- up to my chin and said, You're the same height of my wife because my wife comes up to my chin, my wife of 43 years. And that was put in there as something that made her uncomfortable as part of the sexual harassment charge.

With Robin Meade, CNN Headline News, November 1:

The only thing that I could remember when I was asked about any specific things that were in the allegation, I came up with the fact that I made a gesture by putting my hand under my chin, standing near this lady, saying, "Oh, you're the same height as my wife." My wife is five feet tall, she comes up to my chin, and I was simply making that comparison. We were in my office, the door was wide open, and my assistant was sitting right outside.

Where the other "harassment" might have occured:

With Judy Woodruff, October 31:

Not in a social setting, but maybe in an office or something like that. And we`d have a big convention in Chicago. Other than that, I can`t even recall what some of the other things were. And, as I mentioned, they were all found to be baseless.

What he knew:

With Judy Woodruff, October 31:

I was aware that an agreement was reached. The word settlement vs. the word agreement -- you know, I`m not sure what they called it. I know that there was some sort of agreement, but because it ended up being minimal, they didn`t have to bring it to me. My general counsel and the head of human resources had the authority to resolve this thing. So, it wasn`t one of those things where it got above a certain authority level and I had to sign it. If I did -- and I don`t think I did -- I don`t even remember signing it, because it was minimal in terms of what the agreement was.

With Greta Van Susteren, October 31:

I do recall that the lady making the charge had gotten an attorney. And I recused myself because I was the CEO and the charge was being leveled against me. Peter kept me updated on the progress of this whole situation, and the thing that I remember most is when one day he came in and said, First, the charges were found baseless. I don't recall by whom the charges were found baseless. I don't know whether it was attorneys getting together. I don't even remember if we had outside attorneys. I was busy traveling. I was busy running the association, so I wasn't involved in a lot of the details about this. So I really can't tell you how they were determined as being baseless.

And that's all for now. In a Fox News interview yesterday, the questions actually turned to policy after a while. Cain is in Virginia and D.C. for campaign events and meetings with Republicans all day today. He has left a mostly coherent story, but you can see the items that could be re-argued or debated or exploited -- the places where the charges were made, the facts he knew at the time.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics