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Herman Cain Settled Harassment Claims, Says Politico

Presidential candidate Herman Cain was accused of sexual harassment by at least two female employees during his time as head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, according to Politico.

Cain was president of the trade association from 1996-99; he took the job right after leaving his successful stint at Godfather’s Pizza.  He has been married to his wife, Gloria, since 1968.  Politico says it knows of two women who took five-figure payments to settle the claims and leave their jobs. 

Politico also says it has been seeking comment from the Cain campaign for 10 days, receiving a mixture of silence and obfuscations. Yesterday they confronted Herman Cain himself:

“In a tense sidewalk encounter Sunday morning outside the Washington bureau of CBS News — where the Republican contender had just completed an interview on ‘Face the Nation’ — Cain evaded a series of questions about sexual harassment allegations.

Cain said he has ‘had thousands of people working for me’ at different businesses over the years and could not comment ‘until I see some facts or some concrete evidence.’ His campaign staff was given the name of one woman who complained last week, and it was repeated to Cain on Sunday. He responded, ‘I am not going to comment on that.’

He was then asked, ‘Have you ever been accused, sir, in your life of harassment by a woman?’
He breathed audibly, glared at the reporter and stayed silent for several seconds. After the question was repeated three times, he responded by asking the reporter, ‘Have you ever been accused of sexual harassment?'”
Then Cain said “I’m rubber, you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.”  
Not really, of course.  But he and his campaign don’t seem to be handling the accusation in a super- smooth manner.  His website now has a statement up, not denying the charges but saying: “Fearing the message of Herman Cain who is shaking up the political landscape in Washington, Inside the Beltway media have begun to launch unsubstantiated personal attacks on Cain.” 
[ Update:  Cain’s campaign manager, Mark Block, has now issued a more forceful denial: “Herman Cain has never sexually harassed anybody. Period. End of story… Mr. Cain will be addressing it today. Mr. Cain has never sexually harassed anyone, period. He said emphatically the story’s not true.” Why Cain wouldn’t just say that yesterday, of course, is an open question.]
Here’s a too-quick video of the awkward sidewalk encounter on Sunday:

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