Gloria Cain: Can her 'stand by your man' moment make a difference?
Gloria Cain will appear on Fox News Monday night to defend her husband, who has been accused of sexual harassment. Gloria Cain could change the momentum or be 'too little, too late.'
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“When a woman opts to ‘stand by her man’ after allegations of an affair surface, she is attempting to send a message to voters that she trusts her husband, that their marriage is strong, and that voters should trust him, too,” says Jennifer Lawless, director of the Women & Politics Institute and associate professor of government at American University. “This might be a difficult decision, highly embarrassing and often emotional.”Skip to next paragraph
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Mr. Cain denounces the accusations of four different women – two of whom remain anonymous – as completely false. But past instances provide meaningful context for what moments like Ms. Cain's appearance on Fox could mean.
“When a woman stands next to her husband on a podium to demonstrate continued support despite not only his infidelity but also his illegal activities, she is making a statement that transcends trust and the state of her marriage," says Professor Lawless. "She is suggesting that she is willing to stand by behavior that crosses both a moral and legal line. And she is implicitly asking voters to do the same.”
Cain’s polling numbers already appear to be on a downswing. The CNN poll, compiled last weekend, shows Cain at 14 percent, down 11 percentage points from October. A Politico poll also suggests that support for Cain dropped dramatically after accuser Sharon Bialek held a news conference Nov. 6.
Democratic pollster Celinda Lake calls the intervention by Ms. Cain “too little, too late.” And she thinks the drama, as it continues to percolate, will only alienate a voting public seeking an untarnished advocate in the White House – someone who isn’t distracted by the “noise” in his personal life.
“They want politicians to focus on their lives,” Ms. Lake says of voters.
Interestingly, though, Professor Mandel of Rutgers notes that there’s an unspoken irony in the latest chapter of the Cain saga. His wife – whose voice most Americans have never heard – has enormous influence over how the former Godfather’s Pizza chief’s presidential bid plays out.
“She’s under tremendous pressure to stand for him, to speak for him, and in critical moments like this, frankly, to perhaps save him, save his campaign,” Mandel says. “That’s very significant power – even if it’s unwanted.”
In an advance transcript of her remarks on The Washington Post, Ms. Cain has husband’s back.
“I’m thinking he would have to have a split personality to do the things that were said,” Ms. Cain says.
The interview will air at 10 p.m. Eastern time.
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