So, turns out it was the “Democrat Machine” all along.
Herman Cain held a press conference Tuesday evening, addressing the accusations of sexual harassment that have dogged his campaign for the last week and a half.
During the press conference, Cain stated unequivocally that the accusations against him are false, and further said that he does not remember meeting Sharon Bialek, the latest woman to accuse Cain of unwanted sexual contact — at one point saying that “the Democrat machine in America has brought forth a troubled woman to make false accusations.”
Whatever the truth of the matter, it cannot be counted out of the realm of possibility that Cain’s performance might boost his standing among some Republican primary voters, with his contention that the accusations are being lodged in order to undermine him politically as an agent of change.
The press conference opened with Cain’s own celebrity attorney, Lin Wood — providing something of a counter to Gloria Allred, who is representing Bialek.
Wood presented a sort of defense attorney’s opening statement, saying that he himself has in the past represented victims of sexual harassment. “Serious, legitimate claims of sexual harassment are not settled for nuisance value,” said Wood. He then added that he has represented victims of sexual assault — and that those cases were tried in a court of law, not the court of public opinion.
“And now Herman Cain in the court of public opinion has to respond, not to admissible evidence, he has to respond to hearsay, he has to respond to rumors and speculation. He’s not afforded the opportunity for me to cross-examine his accusers. He’s not afforded the safeguards that are part of our system of justice.
“But he comes before you today to defend his reputation — a reputation that he has built over 40 years of being a good and decent man, and a successful businessperson. I ask that you at least afford him fairness, and that you view his efforts to defend his reputation and his good name, by maintaining your common sense, and remembering your own life’s experience to decide whether or not a story that is so inherently improbable on its face should be utilized by others with their own agendas to attack this man’s reputation.”
Cain then took the stage, saying he wanted to speak to the American people — saying that he was departing from his usual practice by using prepared remarks, in order to ensure that he would not miss any necessary point.
“With respect to the most recent accusation, I have never acted inappropriately with anyone, period,” said Cain. “I saw Ms. Allred and her client yesterday in that news conference for the very first time. As I sat in my hotel room with a couple of my staff members, as they got to the microphone, my first response in my mind, and reaction was, ‘I don’t even know who this woman is.’
“Secondly, I didn’t recognize the name at all. The time that she referenced was during the time that I was the CEO and president of the National Restaurant Association. It’s headquartered in Washington, DC, where about 150 workers work, and we have about 150 people in Chicago, where she said she worked for our educational foundation. I tried to remember if I recognized her, and I didn’t. I tried to remember if I remembered that name, and I didn’t. The charges, and the accusations, I absolutely reject. They simply didn’t happen. They simply did not happen.”
He said that he has received support from people across America, and would not drop out of the race: “Ain’t gonna happen.” He then further called out his accuser, Sharon Bialek, and accused her of being put up publicly by Democrats who are out to derail his candidacy.
“The fact is, these anonymous allegations are false, and now the Democrat machine in America has brought forth a troubled woman to make false accusations, statements — many of which exceed common sense, and they certainly exceed the standards of decency in America.
“I have been married for 43 years, to my wife Gloria — 43 years, I’ve been married to my wife. After watching that press conference yesterday, I called her and said, ‘Sweetheart, did you see it?’ She said yes. I said, ‘What did you think?’”
“And my wife said, and this is a direct quote, ‘I have known you for 46 years’ — because we were engaged for two years — ‘that doesn’t even sound like anything that you would ever do to anyone.’”
Cain then opened up for a Q&A with the press. During that Q&A, he made clear that he did not dismiss or delegitimize the issue of sexual harassment.
“Let me reiterate that sexual harassment is a very serious charge. In no way have I tried to minimize sexual harassment in the workplace. Having led many organizations, yes, I have seen instances where it could be interpreted as sexual harassment. And if I saw it, and if it were an employee or a direct report of mine, I dealt with it immediately, before the other person perceived it as an infringement of their privacy.
“And I might add, it’s not just men who potentially sexually harass women. I’ve also seen situations in which women have attempted to sexually harass men. It’s very serious, and I have made sure that that wasn’t something that was tolerated in any organization that I was responsible for.”
At one point, he was asked about his initial statements that there had been no settlements involving past accusations of sexual harassment. Cain then reiterated that he had been focused on a legal term of art, separating the matters of a “settlement” versus an “agreement.”
“Now let me clarify that little bit. I’ve been criticized by some members of the media, that I have changed my story. When the firestorm started a week ago Monday, I was presented with the accusation of, some settlement was made. ‘Settlement’ to me means there were legal implications. Later during that same day I then recalled, after all those years, that there was an agreement. That’s what businesses sign with employees who are departing the company. They call it an agreement. ‘Settlement’ implies legal implications. All of the potential legal implications or ramifications or accusations were found to be baseless.
Cain was also asked where he thinks the accusations against himself are coming from, as he had alluded to a “Democrat machine” attacking him.
“Well, I happen to think where it’s coming from is that some people don’t want to see Herman Cain get the Republican nomination, and some people don’t want Herman Cain to become President of the United States,” said Cain. “As you know, when you run for the highest office in the land, there are gonna be some accusations that are gonna come out of the woodwork, they are gonna come from anywhere.
“And I have said this before: There will probably be others — not because I am aware of any, but because the machine to keep a businessman out of the White House is going to be relentless. And if they continue to come, I will continue to respond.”
Cain was also asked about whether he believed Bialek’s financial troubles — a theme that his campaign has been openly pushing to the media — were the cause of her accusations against him. Cain played it somewhat coy.
“She claims that her past financial situation, the number of civil lawsuits she’s been involved, she claims that it does not play a role in her coming forward,” he said. “I can’t respond any further than that. That’s her claim. But from a common-sense standpoint, one would have to ask if in fact that might not have been a motivation for her being subjected to this.”
Cain was also asked whether he might remember Bialek, as he had previously searched his memory and remembered details of the past agreement that the National Restaurant Association had made over separate accusations of sexual harassment.
“That’s a possibility — but I think it’s a remote possibility,” said Cain. “I’m not an expert on how the brain works, but I do know that I sat there and went over and over in my mind, ‘Do I know this lady?’ The answer kept coming up, no.”
He also said that, as people who know him could vouch for, he has a good memory for people he has met, especially those who have made an impression on him. “So at this particular case, I seriously doubt if I’m gonna have an ‘A-ha’ moment later and say, ‘yeah, I remember that.’ I just don’t think that’s gonna happen.”