Would-be Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain has denied reports he faced sexual harassment accusations from staff in the 1990s. Claims have been made that was twice accused while he was the head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s. Mr Cain – a self-styled outsider relatively new to the national stage – is facing a new level of scrutiny after a burst of momentum in the race for the Republican nomination. He has been steadily at or near the top of national surveys and polls in early presidential nominating states, competitive with Mitt Romney. The report on the Politico website said the women signed agreements with the restaurant group that gave them five-figure financial payouts to leave the association and barred them from discussing their departures. Neither woman was identified.
Mr Cain’s campaign team said the allegations were not true, and amounted to unfair attacks. “Inside-the-Beltway media have begun to launch unsubstantiated personal attacks on Mr Cain,” said a spokesman. “Dredging up thinly sourced allegations stemming from Mr Cain’s tenure as the chief executive officer at the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, political trade press are now casting aspersions on his character and spreading rumours that never stood up to the facts. “These are baseless allegations.” Mr Cain plans to continue with several planned appearances in Washington.
The former pizza company executive has been pointing to his long record in business to argue that he has the credentials needed to be president during a time of economic strife. In its report, Politico said it confronted Mr Cain and he said: “I am not going to comment on that,” when asked specifically about one of the woman’s claims. When asked if he had ever been accused of harassment by a woman, he responded, Politico said, by asking the reporter: “Have you ever been accused of sexual harassment?”