Herman Cain’s press conference could have gone worse. So, there’s that.
But the presidential hopeful didn’t exactly squash speculation regarding the recent sexual harassment allegations levied against him, and he certainly didn’t assuage anyone’s fears regarding his ability to handle crises in an effective manner.
Following an opening statement from his lawyer, Lin Wood, Cain came forward and said, “I have never acted inappropriately with anyone, period.” Pretty standard remark for such a presser, and I have no problem with a blanket denial of any misconduct. After all, a defendant in court is innocent until proven guilty, yes?
Cain then claimed he had never seen Sharon Bialek before yesterday, saying, “I saw Ms. Allred and her client yesterday in that news conference for the first time… My first response was, ‘I don’t even know who this woman is.’ Secondly, I didn’t recognize the name.”
Now, this is problematic.
Eyewitness testimony would beg to differ, claiming that he and Bialek hugged and that she spoke to him for a few minutes at TeaCon in Chicago over September 30-October 1.
But, giving him the benefit of the doubt, a conversation at TeaCon does not by any means confirm he harassed her, and it’s possible that he met so many people that day, he simply forgot her.
Worse, however, was this cringe-worthy line: “The Democrat machine has brought forth a troubled woman to make accusations.”
First, it was Perry’s people. Now, it’s the Democrats? Speaking of baseless accusations… He ought to have known better than to make such a remark. He even started the press conference by calling attention to the notes he’d brought on stage, so he would ensure he wouldn’t misspeak or miss a point. Either he deviated from the script in a bad way, or he really, really needs to hire a new speechwriter.
Later, when asked about his “Democrat machine” remark, he said he did not think the growing accusations were part of a conspiracy, and that he “didn’t have any definitive proof,” but there are a number of “coincidences” that point to a sabotage effort by the Democrats.
Importantly, he did comment on Karen Kraushaar, one of the original accusers who came forward publicly moments before the press conference. She, Cain noted, was the one case he did remember—the “You’re the same height as my wife” incident—but denied that any legal settlement took place. He called the payout a “personnel separation agreement” reached between her lawyer and a National Restaurant Association attorney.
At this point, the bigger concern isn’t so much the accusations themselves, which are somewhat shady, but Cain’s response. Right from the start, he has been muddled and inconsistent—and with foreknowledge of Politico’s story, his camp had the time to gather the information necessary to craft a uniform response. Unfortunately, Cain has failed to provide a commanding rebuttal, one in which he doesn’t contradict earlier statements or lay blame without definitive proof.
I don’t believe he sunk his campaign with this press conference, but I also don’t believe it helped him. He certainly still has a chance to make a good run for the nomination. But my first suggestion? Find a new communications team.