Monday, November 24, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Cain's mutiny

The real problem for Herman Cain is he and his staff gave up the ship at a time they could have weathered the storm of his sexual harassment issue.

Cain's mutiny

For me, it isn't so much what Herman Cain might have done in the late 1990s with regard to at least two women employed by the National Restaurant Association while he was their boss.

For me, it's more about what Cain and his staff should have done before the story broke.

It has been made clear that the Cain campaign knew for at least 10 days that Politico.com was working on a story about sexual harassment allegations against Cain that resulted in two women leaving his employ under a confidentiality agreement and with a cash settlement.

During that week-plus, it seems the Cain campaign suffered a full-blown "Cain Mutiny" -- the candidate and his crew simply gave up the ship.

The result has been days of floundering in conflicting, contradictory statements from the candidate about every aspect of the issue, an issue that now dominates his stunning run for the Republican presidential nomination at a time that run appeared ready to break into a sprint.

What could have happened, what should have happened, is this: knowing that the story was going to break, Cain and his advisors should have broken it.

They should have announced that because of his campaign's success, every piece of his past life is being examined, and one piece involves charges of sexual harassment.

Then they should have fully aired the allegations with all the details, gotten and released statements from the women involved telling their sides of the story, paid whatever fines are associated with breaking the confidentially agreements, offer a rebuttal (if there's a good one) or take the blame and apologize for indescretions, if warranted.

That would have accomplished two things. It would have blunted, if not killed the Politico story. And it would have shown an ability to react in crisis.

And if, as is suggested in some reporting, there's more to this than Cain's assertion that he merely compared one of the women's height to that of his wife, the candidate could own the story by saying "I made mistakes. I learned from my mistakes. I'm a better person because of that."

An upfront admission to human fraility is far better than attempts to cover it up.

Full disclosure could have avoided what is now a drip, drip, drip of daily details keeping the story in the news, keeping Cain on the defensive and keeping his campaign's viability in doubt. 

It now appears, according to today's New York Times, that one of the women was paid $35,000 or one year's salary, and, according to today's Washington Post, that the other woman is looking for a way to come forward with her story.

Both these reports hold the very real potential of making Cain look like a liar. For Cain and his campaign nothing could be worse. Especially since he had the chance to ride out this storm. 

 

 

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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