Since Politico broke the news last weekend that Herman Cain faced sexual harassment charges while leading the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s by two women (now possibly three), the Republican presidential hopeful's campaign has appeared to believe this one might just blow over. Since when does anything like this just quietly disappear? The Cain team made it even worse by not getting their stories straight, and trying to sidestep the issue.
Hello first mega-communications breakdown, scandal-waiting-to-happen of the 2012 trail.
First, Cain said he had never heard of the charges. Then he had heard some rumblings about it, but he let others at the association deal with it through, er, some sort of settlement (possibly one year's full pay for one woman).
The "I know nothing" line of defense rarely works, and for a chief executive to say after allegations were filed, he just stood back and let others handle it? C'mon. They need to be more straightforward and clear about what happened.
The campaign is denying the allegations, and it looks like they are considering legal action against Politico. Some of Cain's defenders suggest that heck those girls should just come forward (h/t HuffPost Hill). Cain too complains of their anonymity. Yet, one at least is trying to come forward if they will unbind her from a confidentially agreement she signed.
Is this Cain's John Edwards' moment? Does he sink from here? A poll released today - nearly a week into the scandal - shows he is still neck-and-neck with Romney. The campaign also says it is raising more money than before the crisis and record numbers are flocking to his Facebook page, presumably in defense of their candidate.
The poll also shows women and men near even in the support of Cain, but I have to believe that in the long-term this sinks him with the ladies. It certainly won't play well against the squeaky-clean family man, President Barack Obama.
As Madeleine Albright (a heroine to many young women in the '90s) responded this morning on Morning Joe when Joe Scarborough asked her if Cain had invited her to meet while he was in New York as he did with Henry Kissinger: "I'm the wrong gender."