Cain’s wife: My husband respects women

posted at 12:10 pm on November 14, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Gloria Cain has broken her silence on allegations against her husband and Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain of sexual misconduct while at the National Restaurant Association. Mrs. Cain will appear on Greta van Susteren’s On the Record tonight in a prerecorded interview, insisting that “my husband respects women,” and that he would have to have a “split personality” for these charges to be true. Fox has offered a preview of Mrs. Cain’s remarks, which other news services have also picked up:

Gloria Cain, wife of Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, says claims of sex harassment against her husband left her wondering who his accusers are talking about.

“To hear such graphic allegations and know that that would have been something that was totally disrespectful of her as a woman, and I know that’s not the person he is. He totally respects women,” Gloria Cain told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren in an interview that will air Monday night at 10 p.m. ET.

Four women have accused the businessman of sexually harassing them when he led the National Restaurant Association between 1996-1999. The most recent accuser, Sharon Bialek, is the only one to go on record publicly.

“I looked at especially this last lady and the things that she said, and I’m thinking, ‘He would have to have a split personality to do the things that she said,'” Gloria Cain said of Bialek.

Cain could use the support. According to a new poll — sponsored in part by Politico, the news outlet that broke the story about two severance packages at NRA allegedly related to sexual harassment — the charges are starting to erode his standing in the race, although he still leads in the survey:

Herman Cain sits atop the Republican presidential field in the new POLITICO/George Washington University Battleground Poll released Monday.

A deeper look at the numbers, however, suggests recently revealed past sexual harassment claims against Cain have caused some voters to reconsider their support. A high-profile press conference held by one accuser, Sharon Bialek, and her attorney Gloria Allred last Monday seems to have been a tipping point.

Among likely Republican voters surveyed Sunday, Nov. 6, Cain led the field with 40 percent. On Monday, he was third with 22 percent. By Wednesday, just 19 percent of those surveyed said they supported Cain for the nomination.

“It does appear that the stories are certainly hurting him,” said Republican pollster Ed Goeas of The Tarrance Group, who helped conduct the bipartisan poll. “As this moves forward, I think it does become more and more a deal-breaker.”

Unfortunately for Cain, his wife’s appearance might get trumped by a press conference in Shreveport, Louisiana, being called by Bialek attorney Gloria Allred. Allred claims that a “witness” has come forward to support Bialek’s allegation:

A new witness in the Herman Cain sexual harassment scandal has hired powerhouse attorney, Gloria Allred, and will be holding a press conference on Monday afternoon in Shreveport, Louisiana, RadarOnline.com is exclusively reporting. …

The new witness is a pediatrician, and a former boyfriend of Bialek’s. The doctor was with Bialek when he met Cain. Bialek told her then-boyfriend that Cain had inappropriately touched her shortly after the alleged incident took place in Washington D.C. Cain has said, “I don’t even know who this woman is.”

That’s not a witness in the sense of corroborating the actual incident. It’s more of a character witness that can attest that Bialek didn’t just make up the story recently, assuming one believes the “witness.” In that sense, it sounds quite a bit like the Anita Hill inquiry, where people who actually worked with Clarence Thomas attested to his character and acquaintances of Hill attested to contemporaneous comments about the allegations. It extends the he-said-she-said aspect of the allegations but doesn’t actually settle much, in a legal sense anyway.

How about the political sense? As Matt Lewis found out yesterday on Howard Kurtz’ Reliable Sources, no one is apparently allowed to question whether the allegations are actually true:

In other words, the reliable sources in the media will assume Cain’s guilt and report from that perspective, and any suggestion that we wait to see what proof gets offered is almost literally unheard of in polite media circles. I’m pretty sure Matt must have felt as though he’d fallen down the rabbit hole at the end of this segment:

By citing the “stained blue dress” — which, as Howard Kurtz rightly pointed out is a very high burden of proof — I may have given the wrong impression. Perhaps a better example would have been the pictures of Donna Rice sitting on Gary Hart’s lap, aboard the “Monkey Business”? Regardless, my point is that unless or until the public is presented with some sort of tangible evidence — a picture, a receipt, a witness … something! — Cain may be damaged by the allegations, but will likely not be destroyed.

The proper assumption for journalists — it occurs to me — is to say we simply don’t know if Cain is innocent or guilty. This is not to say that one can never come to a conclusion prior to a court decision. I think, for example, most everyone assumes former Penn State coach Gary Sandusky did what he is alleged to have done. But Cain’s situation is entirely different. And in such situations, it is prudent to treat both sides with respect. But it is fair to be skeptical of both sides. What one should not do, however, is to simply assume Cain is guilty.

Unless one has something to gain from doing otherwise, I’d agree.

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