Herman Cain, the recent frontrunner in the GOP primaries and inventor of the highly-marketed 9-9-9 tax plan, has been struck with allegations of sexual misconduct in the late 1990s, during his tenure as President of the National Restaurant Association (NRA). The story of his allegations broke this past Halloween, when the first anonymous women identified Cain as a sexual offender. The Cain 2012 campaign team reacted instantly in an attempt to clear his name, creating a pro-Cain website, caintruth.com.
Two of the allegedly-abused women have released their identity to the public. According to CBS news, their names are Sharon Bialek, a Chicago native, and Karen Karusharr. Both are former co-workers of Cain and reported sexual harassment during their employment with the NRA. As of Nov. 13, five women have made their stories public, four of whom were allegedly abused by Cain, while the fifth was a witness.
Bialek, a registered Republican voter, was the fourth woman to accuse Cain of sexual misconduct. Accompanied by her lawyer, Gloria Allred, she released a statement explaining the night the harassment took place. “I thought that we were going to go into the offices so he that could show me around … instead of going into the offices, he suddenly reached over and he put his hand on my leg under my skirt … I was very, very surprised and very shocked.” However, Cain has responded by citing Bialek’s checkered history, encompassing two filings for bankruptcy and constant career changes, in an effort to invalidate her allegations.
Cain was asked in a press conference about a possible settlement made by the NRA with the women he allegedly harassed. He stated, “If the restaurant [association] did a settlement, I was unaware of it.” However, politico.com uncovered that one woman received $45,000 as part of her settlement.
Throughout political history, numerous sex scandals have destroyed bids for the White House. Perhaps the most telling paradigm was the 1988 election. Gary Hart, 1987 Democratic primary frontrunner, was gaining immense popularity in the polls until the Miami Herald, a Miami, Fla.-based news source, uncovered a relationship between Hart and Donna Rice, a 29-year-old model. Hart’s polling numbers plummeted, and he was forced to relinquish his bid for the Oval Office.
This outcome could very well be the fate of Cain’s campaign, according to Talkingpointsmemo.com (TPM), a political web magazine. “There is no question, on the Republican side the political dynamic in this presidential election is changing” TPM said.
However, in the recent Michigan GOP debate, Cain, in light of the scandal, received the most fanfare from the crowd. When probed about his alleged sexual misconduct, he responded confidently causing an uproar of cheers from the audience. “The American people deserve better than someone being tried in a court of public opinion based on unfounded accusations,” Cain said.
Allred said in an interview with Fox News that she would not be surprised if more information concerning the Cain scandal surfaced.
Even in a post-scandal environment, Cain appears to hold a slight edge over Mitt Romney, hailing a three percent lead over his fellow Republican, according to a recent AARP poll. In a CBS poll, 61 percent of Republican voters indicated that the allegations will not affect their decision in voting for the nominee.
Members of the Elizabethtown College community are consistent in their appraisal of the ex-CEO’s chances of becoming the nominee. Etown’s College Republicans President sophomore Jason Halberstadt weighed in on the scandal. “The recent scandal involving Herman Cain seems mostly media-driven … Regardless, I sincerely doubt Herman Cain will become the nominee of the party,” Halberstadt said.
Brett Williams, first-year Elizabethtown College student, said, “Herman Cain should relinquish his bid for the White House … he will never get elected with a sex scandal looming over his campaign.”
Kathy Fry, a 22-year veteran of Etown Dinning Services (most notably the Blue Bean), expressed her feelings toward the recent Cain scandal. “There should be a high standard, in terms of morals, for those who wish to become president of the United States. Politicians need to gain the trust and respect of the people. Once it’s lost it is very hard to come back from,” she said.
Cain seems to be increasing in popularity despite the allegations. However, it is too early in the election season to predict a clear winner. Cain’s lead in the polls is especially volatile with a surging Newt Gingrich and a cunning Romney. The next GOP debate is scheduled for Nov. 19; it will air on citizenlink.com, broadcast from Iowa. Although the national political stage continues to experience the turbulence of the Cain scandal, one thing is certain: the political landscape will be sure to shift in the upcoming weeks, especially with the Aug. 27 Republican National Convention approaching.