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Campaign chief: 'Herman Cain has never sexually harassed anybody'

October 31, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli | Washington Bureau
(Chris Usher / CBS News / Associated…)

Mark Block, Herman Cain's senior campaign aide, emphatically denied Monday morning that the Republican presidential candidate ever "sexually harassed anybody," rebutting allegations from anonymous sources in a Politico report.

But Block was less definitive on whether there was ever a cash settlement with employees of the National Restaurant Assn. during Cain's tenure, referring questions to the lobbying group.

"Herman Cain has never sexually harassed anybody. Period. End of story," Block told MSNBC's Chuck Todd in an interview. "The only people who spoke publicly about the story in that article are the ones who were in the best position to know: they were the chair, vice chair, the immediate past chair of the NRA during Herman Cain's tenure. And all three said that he was a man of total integrity."

Cain himself is expected to address the report by Politico on Sunday evening that he had been accused of sexual harassment by at least two women during his tenure as head of the restaurant trade group. Politico bases its report on the accounts of multiple anonymous sources and a review of documentation that described some of the allegations.

Block called the report "questionable at best."

"Every negative word and accusation in the article is sourced to a series of unnamed or anonymous sources," he said. "I am not personally aware of any cash settlement relating to sexual harassment charges to Mr. Cain"

Asked if he'd spoken with Cain about the claims, Block said he had and that he had "complete confidence that what Mr. Cain told me is absolutely factual and true."

"He said to me emphatically: When there is facts, bring them to me. Let me face my accusers and we'll deal with them then," Block said.

The story broke just as Cain was to begin a series of events in Washington for his surprising campaign. Just Saturday the Des Moines Register's poll of Iowa caucusgoers showed him leading the GOP field.

Cain was speaking Monday morning at the American Enterprise Institute and later the National Press Club. He's due to meet with members of Congress later this week.

His campaign is getting low marks for handling this crisis so far, but Block said he was confident they would weather the storm.

"We went into this knowing full well that this is a tough, tough business. This is not, will not be the first — I have no idea what the other crises will be," he said. "We will handle them all professionally. We're not going to change our campaign strategy."

michael.memoli@latimes.com

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