Herman Cain’s Favorability Declines Following Sexual-Harassment Allegations

Accusations that Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, 65, sexually harassed women in the 1990s have damaged his bid for the White House, according to the results of a Reuters/Ipsos poll.

Allegations that Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain sexually harassed women in the 1990s have begun to damage his bid for the White House, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found. Photo: Kevin Dotson/Flickr

The poll showed the percentage of Republicans who view Cain favorably dropped 9 percentage points, to 57 percent from 66 percent a week ago. Among all registered voters, Cain’s favorability fell 5 percentage points, to 32 percent from 37 percent, Reuters reported.

According to the results of the poll, a majority of respondents, 53 percent, believe sexual harassment allegations against Cain are true despite his denials. Republicans were less likely to believe they are true, with 39 percent thinking they are accurate.

“The most striking thing is that Herman Cain is actually seeing a fairly substantial decline in favorability ratings toward him particularly among Republicans,” said Ipsos pollster Chris Jackson.

At least three women have accused Cain of sexual harassment from his time as the restaurant industry’s top lobbyist, according to Reuters. Cain insists the claims were baseless and that he was wrongfully accused.

But a woman who received a cash settlement from the restaurant association in response to her harassment claim rejected Cain’s denials on Friday. She said through her lawyer that she was the victim of a “series of inappropriate behaviors and unwanted advances” by Cain in 1999.

Concerning the allegations of sexual harassment, other results of the survey are the following:

  • Eighty percent of respondents were aware of the allegations;
  • Republicans were most aware of them (88 percent);
  • Independents were least aware of them (64 percent);
  • Four in 10 respondents said the controversy made them less favorably inclined toward Cain;
  • About one in three Republicans (35 percent) said it made them less favorably inclined toward Cain.

Meanwhile, Cain on Saturday refused to answer questions about the sexual-harassment allegations. The Associated Press quoted him as blaming journalists for having troubled his campaign. In fact, when asked what surprised him about running for president, Cain replied, “The nitpickiness of the media.”

“It is the actions and behavior of the media that have been the biggest surprise,” Cain said. “There are too many people in the media who are downright dishonest. … They do a disservice to the American people.”

Cain repeatedly has denied ever sexually harassing anyone, and his campaign said it was “looking to put this issue behind us.” Advisers had hoped Saturday night’s debate here near Houston would help do that.

Attorney Joel Bennett suggested Cain wasn’t telling the truth in his repeated denials of the incidents that allegedly took place while the Georgia businessman headed the National Restaurant Association.

Tea party organizers explicitly limited to the discussion to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Gingrich, however, gave Cain an opportunity to address the allegations with an open-ended question about what has surprised him about running for president.

Cain didn’t hesitate: “The nit-pickiness of the media,” he said. “It is the actions and behavior of the media that have been the biggest surprise,” he said.

“There are too many people in the media who are downright dishonest. … They do a disservice to the American people,” Cain said, bringing the room to its feet.

When reporters tried to ask about the allegations following Saturday’s debate, Cain interrupted.

“Don’t even go there,” Cain said before the reporter from The Washington Post could finish his question. “Can I ask my question?” the reporter said. “No,” Cain snapped.

“Please send him the journalistic code of ethics,” Cain instructed his chief of staff, Mark Block.

As he left the press conference, he began to offer an answer. “If you all just listen for 30 seconds, I will explain this one time,” Cain said. He then immediately recanted.

“I was going to do something that my staff told me not to do and try to respond, OK?” he said. “We are getting back on message. End of story. Back on message. … Everything has been answered.” [via ReutersHuff Post and International Business Times]

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