Politico reports that Cain has been accused of sexual harassment by two women. And it's pretty clear he's going to have to cop to it:
He was then asked, “Have you ever been accused, sir, in your life of harassment by a woman?”
He breathed audibly, glared at the reporter and stayed silent for several seconds. After the question was repeated three times, he responded by asking the reporter, “Have you ever been accused of sexual harassment?”
That's not the answer of a man falsely accused, it seems to me. And the financial payments to two women are a clear indication of impropriety that bordered, if not transgressed, the legal line. Dave Weigel compares the allegations to the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill brouhaha:
It's one thing for a movement hero or SCOTUS nominee to get in trouble, because everyone stands to lose if he's taken down. Quite the opposite is true if a presidential candidate is in trouble — countless people stand to gain from the coming dogpile. Two: This isn't a one-day story. Politico protected the names of the sources while leaving a Hansel and Gretel trail for others to follow.
Noreen Malone analyzes the Republican reaction:
At least so far, the accusations don't appear to be damaging him too much on the right—in fact, conservatives seem to be rallying around Cain."These are nothing more than allegations at the moment; let's not rush to judgment until all the facts are in," went one typical response on TownHall. The Drudge Report linked prominently to one video of Ann Coulter saying"They are terrified of strong, black, conservative men," …
John Cassidy wonders whether Politico's story will hold up:
[I]f more details do emerge, and particularly if either of the women comes into the spotlight and puts a face on the allegations, Cain’s bubble will have popped in spectacular fashion.
The issue here is that sexual harassment is rarely a one-off deal. It's usually a pattern of behavior. This may open a veritable can of accusations. And I should add that respecting the privacy of people's consensual sex lives, in all their messiness, is not the same as alleged sexual harassment. My insta-view, subject to revision after many more details come out, is that this kind of thing is a pretty moral wound for a candidate with this sudden a rise and shallowness of support. But how he handles it will tell us the most. Candor? Apology? Defiance? Here's one thing worth looking out for: any deployment of the race card.
Poll of polls chart from RCP.