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Herman Cain: Sexual harassment allegations help campaign fund raising

Herman Cain raised $400,000 Monday, as Cain attempted to clear up confusion over his different accounts about the harassment controversy. 

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The accusations have cast a cloud over Cain's high-flying presidential campaign. He leads some Republican polls two months before voters begin to pick their 2012 nominee.

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Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak, who is helping raise money for Cain rival Rick Perry, said the Texas governor could benefit from Cain's problems.

Perry quickly became the Republican front-runner when he launched his presidential bid two months ago, but he has lost support to Cain after a series of weak debate performances.

"The one thing you can say, as Perry's numbers went down a few months ago -- that support went directly to Cain. The question is, could it go back?" Mackowiak said.

Cain has caught fire as a conservative alternative to more moderate Republican Mitt Romney in the race to challenge President Barack Obama. Cain's signature 9-9-9 policy issue is a plan for a 9 percent personal income and corporate tax rate and for creating a 9 percent national sales tax.

'SMEAR CAMPAIGN'

The crisis could damage Cain, particularly in Iowa, where evangelical voters play a dominant role. Iowa holds the first U.S. nominating contest on January 3.

But Iowa Governor Terry Branstad said he did not think the accusations would hurt Cain in his state.

"Iowans are pretty fair-minded people," he told reporters in the town of Pella. "I think Iowans will carefully look at the real situation and not jump to any conclusions."

The controversy has knocked Cain off his pro-jobs economic message and put him into a defensive crouch. But he said the furor has led to a big increase in fund-raising as donors send in their checks to him.

"It is a smear campaign," Cain said. "When they cannot kill my ideas like 9-9-9, they come after me personally."

Cain, 65, has gone from recalling very little about the sexual harassment allegations to remembering more details, such as one reason why the woman apparently complained.

"I referenced this lady's height and I was standing near her, and I did this saying, 'You're the same height of my wife,' because my wife is five feet tall and she comes up to my chin," Cain told PBS on Monday night.

He told CNN on Tuesday the woman had been making "huge claims about sexual harassment" and that he believed she had been paid three to six months of severance.

"I do recall that she was asking for a large sum of money. I don't remember what that sum of money was. But as the review of this moved forward that sum of money ... got less and less and less because her attorney started to figure out she didn't have a valid claim," Cain said.

Analysts said Cain should tell a straight story with as many facts about the accusation as he can muster.

"For any high-profile candidate suffering under such an accusation, whatever facts there are that are known to the candidate should all be known immediately. That's not the way he's handled it so far," said Republican strategist Charlie Black.

(Additional reporting by John Whitesides in Iowa; editing by Mohammad Zargham and Christopher Wilson)

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