A funny thing about media frenzies around your old sexual harassment complaints: they have a tendency to jog the memory. That’s Herman Cain’s story, at least.
Asked by conservative radio host Laura Ingraham, who played clips of Cain denying there was ever a payout on Monday and then acknowledging it hours later on FOX News, what happened in the interim, Cain said it took him a while to recall details of the incident.
“Remember this happened 12 years ago and the word ‘settlement’ suggested to me some sort of legal settlement,” he explained. “And later as I thought about it and thought about it I did recall an agreement with the lady who left who made the false accusation. So thats why I said yes, there was an agreement. But when I was initially hit with this when I woke up yesterday morning trying to stay focused on my day, I didn’t recall it right away.”
Cain said that he still hadn’t heard of a second settlement, but that it may have occurred without his knowledge after he left the National Restaurant Association in 1999.
Noting that Politico had spent over a week trying to get comment from Cain on the story before it came out, Ingraham asked why he didn’t try to get out in front of it sooner.
According to Cain, they were “well aware that this story was going to come out, but we made a conscious decision we weren’t going to chase anonymous sources and not knowing what they were going to put in the article.” Cain’s campaign has acknowledged that Politico did provide the name of at least one of his accusers.
He added: “They were trying to basically throw us into volunteering some information and we didn’t know what they had.”
Cain’s suggestion that Politico was trying to goad him into providing more details strikes a bit of an ominous chord given that Cain has repeatedly hinted that undefined future accusers may come forward. He did so again without any prompting on Ingraham’s show Tuesday.
“There is no doubt in my mind, no doubt in our mind, that this is because I have done so well in the polls consistently,” Cain said. “And the other thing that I would add is I’m sure there are going to be some more trumped up charges. People are going to try and dig up things.”
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.