Here We Go: Cain Accuser Wants to Talk? UPDATE: Maybe Not?

Posted: Nov 02, 2011 1:03 PM

One of Herman Cain's supposed "victims" reportedly wishes she could give her side of the story, and is "frustrated" that she can't, due to the confidentiality agreement she signed over a decade ago:

A woman who accused Herman Cain of sexual harassment in the 1990s is ready for her story to come out, her attorney said Tuesday, even as the Republican presidential hopeful spent a second day trying to quell the mounting controversy and explain his conflicting recollections of the matter. Joel P. Bennett, a lawyer representing one of two women who made the claims against Cain, said Tuesday that his client is barred from publicly relating her side because of a non-disclosure agreement she signed upon leaving the National Restaurant Association, where Cain served as president from 1996 through 1999.

Bennett is calling on the association to waive the agreement so the woman, a federal worker living in suburban Maryland, can rebut Cain’s statements this week that the allegations were false and baseless. “It is just frustrating that Herman Cain is going around bad-mouthing the two complainants, and my client is blocked by a confidentiality agreement,” Bennett said in an interview. “The National Restaurant Association ought to release them and allow them to respond.”

I must have missed the part of Cain's media tour in which he "bad-mouthed" his (anonymous) accusers.  The candidate did suggest that one of the women was "not up to par" in terms of job performance -- but still we don't know whom he was speaking about.  Mr. Attorney may try to latch on to that statement as evidence that Cain breached the agreement first, thus freeing up his client to spill her guts, but that's a stretch.  But the key takeaway is that Lady X is eager to chat.  Or is she?  The piece excerpted above ran yesterday.  Today, second thoughts?

One of the two women who accused GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain of sexual harassment in the 1990s might be having second thoughts about going public with her side of the story, according to her attorney and another person who knows her...A second person familiar with the thinking of the woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the woman is wary of the ramifications of her name becoming public. The woman “did not create this story,” the person said. She has been “completely swept up in this hurricane,” and is discussing with her husband and family whether to make her story public.

Meanwhile, Cain is wisely declining to rush into a commitment on the question of whether the National Restaurant Association should waive the terms of the agreement and let this woman speak out.  If he eventually accedes to such an arrangement, though, he should make his permission contingent on the simultaneous release the woman's employment records from her tenure at the NRA.  After all, it now appears she received her $35,000 settlement / "agreement" as part of a severance package on her way out the door.  I suspect this isn't over.  Boy, all of this swirling controversy must really be taking a punishing toll on the candidate and his campaign, right?  Wrong, actually.  Cain spoke at an American Spectator dinner in Washington, DC last night, where he was greeted warmly by the Beltway audience.  He cracked a wide grin and joked that he'd always dreamed of being the "warm up act" for the evening's keynote speaker, Rep. Paul Ryan.  (Rep. Michele Bachmann had committed to deliver the evening's main address, but she canceled in the final weeks, to accommodate her schedule in Iowa). 

Cain may have ample reason to keep right on smiling.  In addition to his fundraising windfall, a barrage of new polls are out today, suggesting that Cain-mentum continues unabated.  It's worth noting that at least some of this polling occurred before the sexual harassment story broke, but will a MSM attack piece with meager sourcing really hurt Cain among the GOP faithful?  Cain now leads Mitt Romney by seven points nationally in a the latest Quinnipiac survey (the same poll shows an uptick in President Obama's approval rating, which appears to be due to sample manipulation).  The former Pizza CEO has also grabbed a ten point lead in South Carolina, according to Rasmussen, and holds a very small edge in a recent Des Moines Register poll of Iowans.  We'll have to wait and see if the harassment stuff dings him at all (not to mention his Chinese nukes comment and clarification), but for now, the Cain Train is chugging right along.

I'll leave you with my discussion on yesterday afternoon about all of this.  Note how my Democratic interlocutor insists that we should just "trust" him that Cain is guilty of harassment:

Accused = guilty.  That's the Democrat/Maureen Dowd standard, apparently.  Also, juxtapose this rush to judgment with much of the Left's indignant blanket defense of Anthony Weiner during the "hacked" phase of his ignominious saga.

UPDATE - More ugly circus:

Mr. Cain arrived at a Hilton hotel in suburban Virginia on Wednesday morning for what was advertised to the news media as a meeting on health care reform, which was to be followed by a news conference. But he immediately disappeared into what organizers of the meeting, Docs4PatientCare, called a “closed-door session.” Upon emerging, a mob of hotel security and other campaign personnel pushed back against the assembled photographers, and a little bit of a scrum and tussle ensued, with at least one newspaper photographer taking a hard blow to the face. All the while, Mr. Cain, who looked unusually agitated in the center of it all, was screaming: “Excuse me! Excuse me! Excuse me!”