SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Reeling from allegations of sexual misconduct, Herman Cain fought to save his campaign for the presidency on Tuesday by casting one of his accusers as “a troubled woman” with no credibility and stating flatly that he “never acted inappropriately with anyone, period.”
After days in which he refused to discuss the accusations against him, Cain’s reversal to a starring role in a nationally televised news conference underscored the depths of the difficulties for his campaign, as did the scorched-earth assault his campaign leveled Monday against the first woman to publicly accuse him, Sharon Bialek.
“The charges and the accusations, I absolutely reject,” Cain said a day after Bialek’s televised allegations of groping by the Republican businessman threatened to upend his unorthodox campaign.
“They simply didn’t happen. They simply did not happen.”
At an Arizona news conference called to address the series of allegations that have consumed his campaign for more than a week, Cain offered to take a lie detector test to clear his name. But in a sign of the damage already inflicted on his bid for the party nomination, Cain raised the possibility of abandoning the race – if only to shoot down the idea himself.
“As far as these accusations causing me to back off, and maybe withdraw from this presidential primary race – ain’t going to happen,” he said.
Even as he readied his defense, Cain’s efforts to regain momentum were undercut Tuesday by another accuser: Karen Kraushaar, a U.S. Treasury Department spokeswoman.
Kraushaar stepped forward Tuesday and identified herself as one of the previously anonymous women who had complained of sexual harassment by Cain when he was president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association in the late 1990s.
Kraushaar, who worked for Cain at the association, received a cash payment from the group in 1999 after signing an agreement that barred her from discussing the complaint that she filed against Cain.
On Tuesday, Kraushaar told the New York Times that she might participate in “a joint press conference where all of the women would be together with our attorneys and all of this evidence” could be laid out at once.
CNN quoted Kraushaar as telling the woman who hired her from the NRA that Cain was a “monster.”
In Scottsdale, Cain called Kraushaar’s allegations “baseless.”
But his main focus was Bialek, who appeared alongside attorney Gloria Allred in New York on Monday to make public her allegation that Cain put his hand up her skirt and tried to push her face into his crotch.
Bialek was the first of Cain’s accusers to allow herself to be publicly identified. Cain said he could not remember ever meeting Bialek, much less taking her out to dinner in Washington, D.C., and making sexual advances toward her.
“The fact is these anonymous allegations are false and now the Democratic machine in America has brought forth this troubled woman to make false accusations, statements, many of which exceed common sense,” Cain said.