Politics & Government

Sexual-harassment allegations still dog Cain

Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain speaks at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain speaks at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT

WASHINGTON — The Herman Cain sexual harassment imbroglio is getting more complicated.

The other Republican White House hopefuls are becoming ensnared in the controversy, which has dogged the surprise Republican presidential front-runner all week.

Cain, the former chief executive of Godfather's Pizza, was accused of sexually harassing two women in his employ when he led the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s.

Since the Capitol Hill newspaper Politico first reported the story Sunday, Cain's account has shifted more times than a Grand Prix driver. First he blamed the news media. Now he's blaming the controversy on rival candidate Rick Perry. Despite the Texas governor's sizable war chest, he's been sinking in the polls.

The link to Perry that Cain alleges is Republican consultant Curt Anderson, who's aiding the Perry campaign. Cain told Forbes magazine that when he was running for the Senate from Georgia back in 2003, Anderson was helping his effort, and Cain told him about the sexual harassment allegations from his time at the restaurant association.

That raises even more questions, which has been Cain's problem all week as his explanations have changed. When the story emerged, Cain said he had little recollection of the allegations. Later he said he recalled telling Anderson about them eight years ago.

Perry spokesman Ray Sullivan denied that the campaign had anything to do with Cain's troubles. He called the charge "reckless and false." The Perry campaign then lobbed the hot potato over into Mitt Romney's backyard, the other GOP front-runner. The former Massachusetts governor's campaign said, don't blame us.

Complicating the issue even further, Republican pollster Chris Wilson, who was working for the restaurant association during Cain's tenure, told an Oklahoma radio station about an incident at the time that allegedly involved Cain and a woman in a Washington restaurant. He gave no details.

Wilson now works for a political action committee that's aiding Perry. He's denied being a source for the Politico story.

Not to miss an opportunity, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, who briefly led the GOP primary field in August, said in Iowa that Republicans didn't need "any surprises" from their candidates.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that a third woman has surfaced, alleging that Cain sexually harassed her as well.

If all this hasn't been difficult enough for the GOP contender, the tide of pop culture has taken notice of his troubles. Leaving a speech Wednesday, Cain entered a media scrum and was peppered with questions about the allegations.

Quickly growing irritated as he tried to wade through, he said, "Excuse me. Excuse me!"

That's now a ring tone.

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