Herman Cain’s Shifting Story Makes a Bad Situation Worse

The lack of damage control may irreparably harm the White House hopeful’s campaign.

Posted: 11/02/2011 12:46 PM EDT
Herman Cain

Since the news surfaced on Sunday that two women had accused Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain of sexual harassment when he was the chief executive of the National Restaurant Association from 1996-1999, he has publically struggled with damage control. In fact, his ever-evolving version of the facts has turned a not ideal situation into something far worse.

 

Of the settlement, Cain said Monday morning, “If the restaurant did a settlement I wasn’t even aware of it. And I hope it wasn’t for much because nothing happened.” By that night, however, he began to recall that the trade group “ended up settling for what would have been a termination settlement, quite frankly. Maybe three months’ salary or something like that … It might have been two months.”

 

 

After initially stating on Monday that he had recused himself from any investigation of the allegations, Cain remembered on Tuesday that “as the review of this moved forward, that sum of money, negotiating with my attorney, negotiating with her attorney, got less and less and less because her attorney started to figure out she didn’t have a valid claim.”

 

The Times is reporting that the woman received a severance of $35,000 — a year’s salary.

 

One has to wonder why this news is being brought to light now.

 

Former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele believes that one of Cain’s rivals played a role in the scandal in an effort to hurt his campaign. Still, he adds, Cain’s camp has handled the aftermath very poorly even though they had several days to prepare a response before the news broke.

 

“There was not this conversation about how do we develop the message and stick with it and roll it and move on,” Steele said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Monday. “So now you’ve got these stories that make him look like he’s lying or trying to hide something, which may not be the fact, but he’s created this perception now that’s going to dog him.”

 

In addition, the situation underscores the concerns of some conservatives that Cain doesn’t have what it takes to run a serious or successful presidential campaign, much less serve in office.

 

At a forum hosted by the National Journal Tuesday morning, political analyst Charlie Cook, Cain’s campaign has lacked “the critical masse that you usually see even in dark horse campaigns that beat the point spread or almost win the nominations” with a strong infrastructure that includes a team of experienced strategists and fundraisers. Cook said that instead the campaign has exhibited a sort of randomness and predicted that as a result of the scandal Cain’s time in the sun will soon fade.

(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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