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Archives: Why Herman Cain’s ship has yet to sink

Originally published in November 2011
Simon Nguyen

For Herman Cain, the timing of his scandal is a big blessing in disguise. While Cain would have loved for the sexual harassment accusations to never find the light of day, it is actually to his benefit that they became public two whole months before the first votes of the GOP primary are cast. The worst case scenario would have been for these allegations to come out right before the Iowa caucuses or ahead of next year’s November elections if Cain becomes the Republican nominee. The former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza still has adequate time to repair the damages caused by the scandal.

One advantage that Herman Cain has is the ambiguity of the sexual harassment claims. To this point, most of the allegations are pretty much “he said/she said” situations where verifiable evidence is scant. Also, there has been no trial and no conviction against Herman Cain. The two known settlements were negotiated between the alleged victims and the National Restaurant Association. Cain was not directly involved with those settlements and there was no admittance of guilt.

The conservatives’ loathing of the mainstream “liberal” media also plays to Herman Cain’s advantage. The more coverage the media gives to Cain’s scandal the more suspicious Republicans become of the sexual harassment allegations. There is a reason why the latest USA Today/Gallup survey still shows scandal-ridden Cain tying with Mitt Romney for the lead in the GOP nomination race. The former Kansas City Fed chairman has also raised at least $2 million since the allegations first surfaced. Conservatives did not abandon Clarence Thomas in 1991 and are unlikely to abandon Herman Cain, unless more convincing evidence emerges.

While the sexual harassment allegations may not doom Herman Cain’s campaign for the Republican nomination, they have incurred irreparable damage to his presidential chances. Just because many Republicans still stand by Cain does not mean that the rest of the political spectrum will also give these allegations a pass. As a result of the scandal, his reputation with voters has suffered a serious hit. The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll shows Cain’s favorability declined considerably with registered voters. The winners in this whole episode are clearly Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama.

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