On Tuesday, November 8th, presidential candidate Herman Cain held a press conference in Phoenix, Arizona to address the growing “scandal” of alleged sexual harrasment. Most recently, a fourth woman – Sharon Bialek – has stated that, when approaching Cain for help securing a job 14 years ago, Cain attempted to force her into a sexual act or relationship.
While Cain has stated that he would no longer address the issue, the latest charges from Bialek, flanked by celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred, have forced his hand, and forced this latest press conference. Here are my first thoughts:
Cain appears on camera with a lawyer, Lin Wood, who takes the podium first. If Herman Cain is trying to show America that he is taking these charges “head on,” he has started on the wrong foot, using a lawyer to protect him. Yes, private citizen Cain is more than entitled to lawyer up, and he is right to seek legal counsel. But this is a press conference to show America that Herman Cain can take on all comers, all “liars” as he has called them. Cain showed up with a human shield. In my view, not a position of strength. Wood has called on the American people to show Cain “fairness.” It is Cain’s job to tell us what happened, and show his strength. Having your lawyer tell us to be fair is not strong.
Cain takes the podium, and makes mention that he will be reading from notes – something he never does. He also wants to make the strong point that he is taking his message directly to the American people, not through a third party. (This is not necessarily true, considering Wood just left the podium.)
Cain denies the allegation. He claims, clearly, that he did not recognize the woman, nor her name. He is emphatic about this.
The charges, and the accusations, I absolutely reject. They simply did not happen.
And, in a blink of an eye, he pivots into his stump speech. He starts talking about how the American people are tired of politicians. He continues that he – nor the American people – won’t allow politics to shake him. He is also clear that he is not giving up his run for President.
I will not be deterred by false, anonymous, incorrect allegations.
Cain continues on this theme, stating that we can not allow dishonesty to “distract us.” He also states how tough it has been over the past two weeks. But, he is ready to do what is tough, and knows that “we will get through this.”
Cain is now discussing the Democrat machine in America. Cain is going to have to explain this, considering that he has come out on several occasions saying that the Rick Perry camp made the initial leak to Politico, and has considered a lawsuit against Politico.
Cain also invoked his wife, saying that she saw the press conference of Bialek, and that she didn’t think her statement could be accurate. He also says that his family should be left out of this, and the media should not go after his family. Cain talks about his reputation, and how it took 40 years to build – citing the work he has done with business and employees.
I will vigourosly defend my reputation.
He is now repeating his original statement, that he has “never acted inappropriately” and that what Bialek is suggesting is false. Cain then opened up the conference to question, and, after the first question from a CBS reporter, states that he would take a lie detector test. Remember that, because that may be the next big thing. Will Cain take the test, or won’t he? In my opinion, that was a huge mistake.
As for the press conference, he did not leave himself any wiggle room. He has left himself no out of any kind if further charges – with substantiated proof – should come to light. This entire press conference would have been much better if Cain hadn’t let the lawyer start, and I won’t back away from the fact that it showed weakness.
Cain was, throughout, cool, calm and collected. As his supporters will say, “Presidential.” However, what Cain has done is perhaps not what he hoped. His desire (or so I presume) was to put this behind him, and to show that he is able to take on all comers. While he clearly, and without any hysterics or over-the-top rhetoric denied the charges, he somewhat laid down the gauntlet – begging people (without necessarily saying so) to prove him wrong. I’m reminded of Gary Hart….maybe that’s just me.
I look forward to your thoughts about the press conference in the comments.