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Herman Cain says he's the victim of a 'smear campaign'

November 01, 2011|By James Oliphant

Herman Cain’s memory seems to be improving.

“I just started to remember more,” Cain told HLN Tuesday. “In 12 years, a lot of stuff can go through your head.”

The embattled presidential candidate was talking about why he suddenly seems to have recalled details of a financial settlement with one sexual harassment accuser while he was the head of the National Restaurant Assn. in the late 1990s. (Watch video below.)

After the story first broke, Cain said he had no knowledge of settlements with two women who, according to Politico, brought harassment complaints against Cain.

Conservative radio host Laura Ingraham pressed Cain on the inconsistencies in another Tuesday interview.

“The word settlement suggested to me some sort of legal settlement,” Cain explained, “and later as I thought about it and thought about and I did recall an agreement with the lady that left who made the false accusation. So that’s when I said yes, there was an agreement.”

The problem with that line of reasoning, as Ingraham and CNN’s Robin Meade both pointed out, is that Cain’s campaign was contacted by Politico days ago. So why was Cain just now trying to remember details of the alleged episodes?

Cain said his campaign “made a conscious decision” not to address the allegations until the story broke. The Republican also said that he was the object of a “smear campaign” by unknown persons.

“When they cannot kill my ideals like ‘9-9-9’ they come after me personally,” Cain said.

The candidate has been consistent in his denial that any harassing conduct occurred—and Cain said that in 40 years in business, the episode that ended in a settlement is the only incident he can recall. He maintains that he doesn’t know anything about a second accuser mentioned in the Politico article.

“I don’t recall the second one. I’m not even aware of it. If there were, maybe it happened after I left,” he told Ingraham.

Cain seemed to suggest more accusations were coming. “I’m sure there are going to be some more trumped-up charges,” he said. “People are going to try and dig up things.”

There have been some bright spots for Cain during this “firestorm” as he calls it. He said that Monday was one of his best fundraising days yet. And the Des Moines Register surveyed some likely Iowa caucus-goers who said the affair hasn’t made them any less likely to vote for Cain in January.

Ingraham also asked Cain about a report that his campaign may have illegally received thousands of dollars from a charity launched by two supporters who have since become campaign aides.

“I am aware of the report. We are doing a full investigation of it,” he said. “If there were any improprieties, we will go back and amend the FEC report.”


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