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Defending Herman: Can Gloria Cain pull a Hillary Clinton?

November 15, 2011|By James Oliphant | Washington Bureau
  • Gloria Cain is interviewed Monday on Fox News' "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren."
Gloria Cain is interviewed Monday on Fox News' "On the Record… (Fox News )

Almost 20 years ago, the wife of a presidential candidate appeared on a national news program to defend her husband against allegations of sexual impropriety. The candidate's campaign survived the allegations and he ultimately won his party's nomination and then the White House.

The woman, of course, was Hlllary Rodham Clinton — and her husband's campaign was teetering on the edge of collapse in the days before the New Hampshire primary in 1992. The interview on "60 Minutes," in which the couple pushed back against allegations that Bill Clinton was involved in a long-term affair with Gennifer Flowers, was credited with helping to rescue Clinton's campaign. He finished a closer-than-expected second in the New Hampshire primary and became the "Comeback Kid."


For the Record, Nov. 15: An earlier version of this post reported that Bill Clinton won New Hampshire's Democratic presidential primary in 1992. Clinton finished second to Paul Tsongas.

It's too early to know if Gloria Cain's interview Monday night on Fox News will have the effect of reviving her husband's presidential campaign, but she made an attempt at putting the sexual harassment allegations that have dogged Herman Cain to rest (video below).

The interview comes at a time when Cain needs a boost. His ship is beginning to show signs of listing. Recent polls have shown that the sexual harassment scandal is costing him support, especially among women. Given his shoestring campaign, Cain has largely had to defend himself in the media,  with no surrogates, especially female surrogates, standing up to vouch for him.

Interviewed by Greta Van Susteren, Herman Cain’s wife of 43 years said she had no doubt that her husband was telling the truth — and the claims of four women that Cain acted inappropriately during his time at the National Restaurant Assn. more than a decade ago are baseless.

“I know the person that he is, and I know that the person that they were talking about, I don't know who that person is,” Gloria Cain said from the couple's home in Atlanta. “And we've been there for 43 years. And if I haven't seen parts of that person in 43 years, I don't think I'm that simple that I would miss something that significant.”

She dismissed Van Susteren’s suggestions that her husband could have been deceiving her.

“In the beginning, I started thinking in my mind, Could I have missed something? But then I always go back to the beginning. No, I'm not missing anything. I know Herman. I know him,” she said.

And showing some steel, she said that if she did discover that Cain had been lying to her she wouldn’t stand with him as other political spouses have done.

“I know the type of women that you're thinking about, that the little woman at home is the last to know,” she said. “But I never see myself as being the little woman at home. And I've always said when I've seen stories like that, I will not be one of those people who will stand up on stage with a smile and knowing that you were wrong. I'm not going to do that.”

Gloria Cain said her husband told her about the allegations “in passing” the Sunday evening the story broke — and that she recalled Cain mentioning an incident at the restaurant association back when he worked there as president and chief executive officer.

“He told me about the first lady who made the accusations through the National Restaurant Association. And for some reason, that rang a bell because years ago, I think when he first mentioned something about there was some accusations of harassment, and I said, Oh, well, is there anything to it? No,” she said.

“And from that point on, I think the next thing he said was the accusations were deemed not reliable or unfounded. They were unfounded, and that was the end of that. That was, what, 15 years ago? And from that point on, we had never even said anything else about it.

“So it was totally a shock. And the thing that I couldn't understand, even with that, if a person is so hurt or traumatized because of something you alleged happened to you, why would you wait 15 years to say something about it? I think if it were me, I would have to say something right away. I couldn't live with something that hurt me to that extent.

“So when he said it was unfounded and we didn't speak anything else about it, it was said and done. It was just done,” she said.

She said she stopped watching news reports about the scandal after about a week and a half

“Everybody has an opinion, but they don't know Herman,” she said.

Hours before the Gloria Cain interview aired Monday, attorney Gloria Allred, who represents a woman, Sharon Bialek, who claims Cain groped her in a car in 1997, held a news conference with Bialek's boyfriend at the time, who attempted to corroborate her story.

Gloria Cain also told Van Susteren about the couple’s first date in college and joked that the loquacious Cain talks too much, saying that being married to the man is “exhausting.”

Here's a portion of Gloria Cain's Fox News interview:

And here's the "60 Minutes" interview in 1992 with Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton: james.oliphant@latimes.com

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