5.37 pm. My take, for what it's worth. Cain has just given this story major new life. The total denials are accusations of total cynicism and lies from a variety of women whose only common factor seems to be they were grossed out by Herman Cain. They will be forced to respond to being called liars. And I repeat: the existence of five separate complaints – and contemporaneous witnesses to those complaints – makes a big difference to me in trying to judge the truth of these stories. I see no ulterior motive, no grand conspiracy to prevent Cain from getting to the White House (and if there were, it would more likely be a Republican than a Democrat at this point), no reason for so many disparate women to say essentially the same thing.
So you conclude that Cain is either lying or in complete denial. Neither is exactly a recommendation for a potential president of the United States. I give him props for the presser, something Palin's congenital lies and delusions could never have survived. But my sense is that this story will now not die, as Cain intended, but live for quite a while.
It's five against one. It's he-said vs she and she and she and she and she said (so far). Money was exchanged. It says a lot about this guy's charisma that he can even pretend all of it – all of it – is completely false, never happened, didn't occur.
5.35 pm. The NYT has Kraushaar as a source and tries to get him to offer his account of the incident, presumably to contrast with hers. He repeats his sexual harassment was noting the height of his wife, and nothing more. But look: if Kraushaar is not a liar, and I have no reason to think she is, then Cain has said he either found the sexual harassment trivial and non-existent or he is point-blank lying to the public.
5.34 pm. He claims he has a very good memory but may have forgotten the identity of Sharon Bialek.
5.31 pm. Cain claims that a woman who got a financial settlement from the NRA made claims that were found to be "baseless." He wants to imply that she was leaving her job and this came up in her personnel assessment of some sort.
5.30 pm. "Someone is trying to wreck my character." Karl Rove? The genius of this response to Romney was that he agreed with him that the allegations were "disturbing" but because they were false, it doesn't matter.
5.29 pm. The Fox reporter asks if it's a conspiracy. I didn't just make that up.
5.28 pm. Apparently, Sharon Bialek, a Tea Party member, Cain fan, and Republican, is acting to prevent Herman Cain from becoming president. Ditto Karen Kraushaar:
"She wouldn’t be the type to make false allegations," brother-in-law Ned Kraushaar, a Georgia software consultant, told The Daily. "This happened [more than] 10 years ago. It’s not like she wanted to try and hurt the Republican Party."
5.25 pm. Cain simply says that Karen Kraushaar was lying, and her accusations ere found to be baseless. He keeps referring to "the facts." He doesn't seem to grasp the differenc between his "recollections" and facts. And he is blaming all this on keeping a businessman out of the White House.
5.23 pm. Cain says he dealt with sexual harassment immediately when he was an executive. But he first claimed he had no idea about the original incidents or the settlements. And then we get a truly tone-deaf statement: sexual harassment is also inflicted by men on women. And he says this to a woman.
5.20 pm. "Facts" not "hearsay." He is acting as if he is in court, rather than a public official running for the highest office in the land.
5.19 pm. His tone is grave and his pace slow and deliberate. It's an effective performance and I expect it to resonate with the GOP base in their hatred of the media.
5.17 pm. Now he evokes the notion that the "Democratic machine" created this scandal and is now claiming his own family has been stalked. He's doing what Stron Thurmond recommended to Clarence Thomas:
5.15 pm. The solipsism of this guy is astounding, and the use of the third person "Herman Cain" is never a good sign. "Standards of decency" are what he stands for: and he does not mean sexual harassment. He means press scrutiny. And now he's citing his wife in his defense.
5.14 pm. Cain says that he won't let "politics" affect his run for the White House. Then we're on to campaign rhetoric, trying to turn this issue around as a populist assault on the media and sexual harassment law.
5.12 pm. Cain is using notes but claims he has no memory whatever of Sharon Bialek. Total denial of any impropriety. All the women are liars. The incidents "simply didn't happen." It's the Clarence Thomas defense. But Cain has five accusers; Thomas only had one in front of the Senate, although several in the shadows.
5.08 pm. A vague and threatening mention of "anonymous forces" conspiring against Cain. The lawyer is essentially saying the only context in which allegations of sexual harassment should be taken seriously is a court room. The court of public opinion? Not something Republican candidates for the presidency should take that seriously, apparently.
5.06 pm. A lawyer makes two key arguments. One: the amounts paid to settle two harassment claims prove they were "nuisances", not legitimate allegations. Two: it's only credible when someone has actually filed a formal legal complaint. And we have a blame-the-media narrative building. And Herman Cain hasn't even spoken yet.
(Photo: Eric Thayer/Getty.)