When conservatives sense of of their own is under siege from the mainstream media, they rush to the ramparts to offer support. We saw this play out with Congressman Joe Wilson, Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell, and now with embattled presidential candidate Herman Cain. Since Politico published its light-on-details, heavy-on-"sensitivity" sexual harassment story one week ago last night, Cain's campaign has taken in over two million dollars in donation. USA Today helps put that sum into perspective, based on the campaign's previous fundraising trajectory:
Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain has raised $2 million in campaign contributions in the week since sexual harassment allegations against him became public, his spokesman J.D. Gordon said today. By comparison, the Georgia businessman collected $2.8 million in political donations in the entire June-to-September fundraising period. Cain has repeatedly denied allegations he sexually harassed women in the 1990s when he headed the National Restaurant Association. During an appearance Saturday in Texas, Cain refused to answer reporters' questions about the issue. "We are getting back on message," Cain said. "End of story."
I think it's a good move for Cain to try to put this story behind him, although it's slightly strange to hear a candidate explicitly talk about being "on message." Candidates stay on message -- their handlers talk about being on message. But that's a small quibble One of Cain's fellow presidential hopefuls, Jon Huntsman, appeared on Meet the Press yesterday and suggested that the former pizza CEO, er, keep talking about the allegations:
The release of the fundraising numbers came as Cain's GOP rival Jon Huntsman urged Cain to disclose all the information about the allegations, which have dominated the GOP contest in recent days. "It's got to come out in total," Huntsman said, during an appearance earlier today on NBC's "Meet the Press." "Legitimate questions have been raised." Huntsman, a former U.S. ambassador to China who trails in the polls, said the allegations have "taken all the bandwith" in the primary.
Huntsman gripes that the sexual harassment story has sucked up all of the primary campaign's oxygen, while urging Cain to volunteer more information about it. Nuance. I'd imagine Cain would respond that he already has disclosed everything there is to disclose. If significant ugliness does exist, and it comes out later, his credibility will be shot. Cain obviously understands this reality, yet he's decided to walk away from the issue. Gosh, maybe he reached that decision because, as he's said from day two of this saga, "nothing happened." His accusers would probably disagree, and I'm sure they're itching to set the record straight. Or not: the NRA has agreed to waive the terms of a non-disclosure agreement so one of Cain's accusers could speak up. In case you've lost track, this is the woman whose lawyer expressed public exasperation over Cain's supposed distortion the truth and "bad-mouthing" his client. Granted the freedom to discuss her version of events, the woman has decided to take a pass:
One of the women who accused Republican presidential contender Herman Cain of sexual harassment released a statement through her lawyer Friday stating that she "stands by" her complaint, which was made "in good faith about a series of inappropriate behaviors and unwanted advances." There was "more than one incident" of harassment involving Cain and his client over the span of a couple of months in 1999, attorney Joel Bennett said.
Bennett said his client, married for 26 years, will not reveal her identity because "she and her husband see no value in revisiting this matter now nor in discussing the matter any further publicly or privately. In fact," he added, "it would be extremely painful for her to do so."
Goodnight, scandal. At least until the point that Democrats resurrect the issue and make sure every sordid detail is examined or speculated about, should Cain win the nomination. A question for the "where there's smoke, there's fire" crowd -- which seems to include Jon Huntsman: If Cain's most prominent (albeit anonymous) accuser doesn't want to talk about what did (or did not) happen all those years ago, why on earth should Cain keep the issue alive any longer? I suppose he could milk it just to keep the contribution gravy train going, but he just doesn't seem that cynical.
Parting thought: Even if you're not entirely sold on Cain's innocence in all of this, and have major misgivings about the campaign's unfathomably bungled response to the allegations, might you be tempted to send Cain a few bucks -- if only to stick it to Politico? As of this writing, they've run 93 (!) follow-up stories on this "scandal" in the last seven days. Ninety three.