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Herman Cain: To sexual harassment allegations, add financial ones

Possible campaign-finance impropriety simmers alongside a report of sexual harassment allegations dating from the 1990s. 'I have never sexually harassed anyone,' Herman Cain insisted. But he also gave new information about a settlement with one of the women.

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Still, nothing grabs the public’s attention like a sex scandal. And Cain spent all day Monday trying to tamp down the explosive Politico article. Speaking at a National Press Club luncheon, Cain acknowledged that he had been accused of sexual harassment while working at the National Restaurant Association, but asserted he had been “falsely accused.”

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“In all of my over 40 years of business experience … I have never sexually harassed anyone,” Cain said.

He continued: “When the charges were brought, as the leader of the [restaurant association], I recused myself and allowed my general counsel and my human resource officer to deal with the situation. And it was concluded after a thorough investigation that it had no basis.”

Cain said he was not aware of any settlements having been paid. But if there were, he added, “I hope it wasn’t for much."

Later in the day, a report on a Cain interview with Greta van Susteren of Fox News – to be aired at 10 p.m. Eastern time Monday – showed that Cain did in fact remember a settlement.

Speaking of one woman who received a settlement, Cain said this, according to Byron York of the Washington Examiner: "My general counsel said this started out where she and her lawyer were demanding a huge financial settlement…. I don't remember a number…. But then he said because there was no basis for this, we ended up settling for what would have been a termination settlement."

When Cain was asked how much money that was, he said, “Maybe three months’ salary. I don’t remember. It might have been two months. I do remember my general counsel saying we didn't pay all of the money they demanded."

Cain also offered one recollection of something he had done that was in the sexual harassment charge of one woman: "She was in my office one day, and I made a gesture saying – and I was standing close to her – and I made a gesture saying you are the same height as my wife. And I brought my hand up to my chin saying, 'My wife comes up to my chin.'

"And that was put in there [the complaint] as something that made her uncomfortable," Cain said, "something that was in the sexual harassment charge."

Cain’s evolving story, over the course of the day, raises questions about his – and his campaign’s – communications skills. The Cain campaign had more than a week’s advance warning that Politico was working on the story, and thus Cain had plenty of time to get his story straight. But clearly it’s still a work in progress.

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