Witness to Alleged Harassment: If Details Come Out, Cain's Finished

Posted: Nov 02, 2011 2:38 PM

The guy says he personally witnessed the sexual harassment of which Herman Cain is accused, which he implies occurred at least a "couple of times."  Remember, Cain says he's absolutely confident that his behavior has never risen to the level of harassment, and that the only applicable incident he can think of is the now famous hand/chin gesture.  Hmmmm:

Interviewed today on KTOK's Mullins in the Morning, Wilson, of Wilson-Perkins-Allen Opinion Research headquartered in Washington, D.C. explained he was a witness to the incident.  "I was the pollster at the National Restaurant Association when Herman Cain was head of it and I was around a couple of times when this happened and anyone who was involved with the NRA at the time, knew that this was gonna come up."

Wilson described the woman as a low level staffer who was maybe two years out of college.  "This occurred at a restaurant in Crystal City (Virginia) and everybody was aware of it," he continued.  "It was only a matter of time because so many people were aware of what took place, so many people were aware of her situation, the fact she left---everybody knew with the campaign that this would eventually come up."  Wilson said for legal reasons, he can not discuss details of the incident. "But if she comes out and talks about it, like I said, it'll probably be the end of his campaign."  The consultant said Cain is digging himself a deeper hole by challenging the woman. He also believes it has put the Restaurant Association in a position where it will have to release the woman from her confidentialilty agreement.  "If she talks about it, I think it'll be the end of his campaign."

If this guy is telling the truth (he's a Republican pollster who's worked closely with frequent Cain critic Karl Rove, for what it's worth), his version of events heavily implies that there was a lot more to Cain's actions than the candidate is letting on.  Of course, we still have no idea who this woman is, nor do we know what the alleged harassment entailed.  As it stands, this report is just one man's unsubstantiated opinion, and doesn't change anything...yet.  With Lady X currently weighing her options, Herman Cain remains the only party who has said anything of substance on the record.  Is it possible that he's misleading the public and hiding a big secret?  Sure.  But I'm not willing to go there unless and until there's any proof along those lines.  Red State's Erick Erickson offers his take on what's going on here, and admonishes conservatives and Cain supporters against injecting the race card into the controversy (as Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter have done, among others):

I know the left accuses the right of racism at the drop of a hat, but I think we should resist actually buying into the Politico hit job being racist. Race has nothing to do with it. Opposition research does...The short answer is that this is an opposition research hit by another Republican candidate against Herman Cain, it is not fatal in and of itself, but the Cain response will probably make for self-destruction. And there is one big question — even if this is a nothingburger, which I suspect it is for reasons I’ll go into, can Herman Cain survive a crying victim of sexual harassment on television? Probably not well.

Ed Morrissey wonders if Wilson might actually be Politico's original source for their story:

Could Wilson be more than just a witness in this story?  Could he be a source?  It could just be a coincidence that a witness to these alleged incidents did work for an organization pushing Perry, and that the story mysteriously got to Politico as Cain took support away from Perry in mid-October.  If he is the source, then conducting an interview on the topic has to be one of the dumber political moves I’ve seen.

Ed also can't quite figure out why Wilson would be bound by any confidentiality settlement, as he claims he is.  That strikes me as odd, as well.  If Wilson is "the source" (big if), it's worth pointing out that one of his firm's clients has been doing a lot of Rick Perry boosterism lately.  I've spoken to a few Cain staffers over the last 24 hours, and I've heard two interesting rumors: (1) That the dance to identify Politico's leaker may be "resolved" very soon, and (2) that he or she could be a disgruntled former NRA higher-up with financial ties to Democrats.  None of my Cain camp sources would elaborate any further on either point, so consider them with large grains of salt. 

UPDATE - Here's Cain refusing to take questions on the matter at a healthcare event in Virginia today.  Some people are suggesting he made a mistake by raising his voice and "dodging" questions.  I watched the clip and didn't cringe once, except at the incessant questions from the pack of reporters on a subject Cain specifically said he wasn't going to address (via the Right Scoop):