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Cain camp backs off Perry charge as new payout details emerge

November 03, 2011|By James Oliphant
(Jonathan Ernst / Reuters )

That was fast: As part of its seemingly ever-evolving media strategy, Herman Cain’s campaign appears to have pulled the plug on blaming Rick Perry for the swirl of accusations surrounding the candidate.

“We want to move on with the campaign. Let’s get over these things that don’t mean anything to the American public,” Mark Block, Cain's campaign manager, told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly on Thursday afternoon.

But that’s not about to become any easier. Politico reported Thursday that one of the women who accused Cain of sexual harassment during his time at the National Restaurant Assn. received a payout of $45,000 to settle the matter and keep quiet.

Previously, the New York Times reported that a second woman received a severance of $35,000—which for her was a year’s salary.

The Politico report would seem to again put Cain’s credibility at issue. He has said the woman’s complaint is one that he recalls, but has described it as “baseless” and first said she received a negligible “termination" settlement of perhaps two or three months' salary.

He later shifted his account, saying the amount could have been larger, perhaps six months’ salary.

Block appeared on Fox News on Wednesday evening and blistered the Perry campaign, accusing former Cain aide Curt Anderson, now in the Perry camp, of leaking details of the harassment allegations.

But Anderson, in a round of media interviews, denied knowing anything about the allegations and had nothing but good things to say about Cain.

“I didn't know anything about this. It's hard to leak something you don't know anything about, of course,” Anderson told CNN on Thursday. “The second problem with it is this: If someone tells you something in confidence, a family member, a friend, a candidate, a client, and then you go out and blab it to other people, that's just unethical. That's not the way I live my life.” 

Anderson then offered a little campaign psychoanalysis:

“He's in a tough spot and it's very rough, and candidates when they get into a firestorm like this have sometimes come unraveled,” Anderson said.  “And, you know, it seems to me that they're kind of grasping at straws and fishing around trying to figure out what to do, how to get out of this.”

Anderson’s remarks appeared to be enough to satisfy Block, although it was unclear whether he was backing off his original charge.

“Until we get all the facts, I’m just going to say we accept what Mr. Anderson said and get on with the campaign,” Block said.

james.oliphant@latimes.com

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