96 Hours on the Cain Merry-Go-Round

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It's only been four days since it was revealed that Herman Cain settled sexual harassment claims when he ran the National Restaurant Association, but the pace at which he's reversed and changed his story only seems to be accelerating. It took days for Herman Cain to change his mind about whether he remembered a settlement over the sexual harassment claims against him, a day to change his mind about who was behind it, and mere hours to change his mind -- twice! -- over whether his former campaign consultant stabbed him in the back by leaking the story. But just because people talk about the "accelerated" news cycle all the time doesn't mean they forget things more quickly. Unfortunately for Cain, there is video of him making all these contradictory statements -- not to mention the paper records of what actually happened at the National Restaurant Association way back in the 1990s that will probably come out eventually. But to help you keep up, here are the key points so far.

Sunday, October 30
Politico gave Cain's campaign 10 days to respond to the story, and then reporter Jonathan Martin confronted him. "I'm not going to comment," Cain said. When Martin pressed him, Cain replied, "Have you ever been accused, sir, in your life of harassment by a woman?"
Monday, October 31
Cain tells the National Press Club, "I was falsely accused of sexual harassment ... It was concluded after a thorough investigation that it had no basis. As far as a settlement, I am unaware of any settlement. I hope it wasn't for much, because I didn't do anything. But the fact of the matter is I'm not aware of any settlement that came out of that accusation."

Tuesday, November 1
Cain campaign manager Mark Block told reporters at National Journal’s Election 2012 Preview, "Mr. Cain has never sexually harassed anybody. Period. End of story." But he then hinted he knew Cain had made unwanted comments recently: "As the hours go by, it's interesting that we even hear from a radio talk show host of Iowa that a receptionist thought that Mr. Cain’s comments were inappropriate."
Then Cain was interviewed by Fox News' Greta van Susteren and suddenly remembered a settlement. How much was it for? "Thousands, but I don't remember a number. But then [the general counsel] said, The good news is because there was no basis for this, we ended up settling for what would have been a termination settlement ... Maybe three months' salary or something like that, just vaguely trying to recall it."
(It was actually a full year's salary at $35,000.)
Later Tuesday, Cain addressed a whole Fox panel. Charles Krauthammer asked him why he couldn't remember a settlement earlier that day, but suddenly remembered on van Susteren's show. Cain said he was just confused by the word "settlement." Cain explained, "Well, it wasn't intended to be Clintonian. It was simply using the word 'agreement,' which in business organizations that I have run, whenever there has been an employee leaving, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, we would generally call it an agreement. So that was the perspective from which I got around to that after trying to recall what was happening 12 years ago.


Cain added that racist liberals were behind the charges. "I believe the answer is yes, but we do not have any evidence to support it. ... Relative to the left, I believe that race is a bigger driving factor."
Wednesday, November 2
But Cain changed his mind about who was behind the story after a third woman told the Associated Press she'd been harassed. Cain decided Rick Perry's campaign was to blame, telling Forbes:
"I told my wife about this in 1999 and I’ve got nothing to hide ... When I sat down with my general campaign consultant Curt Anderson in a private room in our [Senate] campaign offices in 2003 we discussed opposition research on me. It was a typical campaign conversation. I told him that there was only one case, one set of charges, one woman while I was at the National Restaurant Association. Those charges were baseless, but I thought he needed to know about them. I don’t recall anyone else being in the room when I told him."
(At least two women got settlements; the second one for $45,000.)
Anderson works for Perry now. When asked about the charges, Anderson denied having ever heard the story, and was like, What are you guys talking about? I like Herman Cain.

Thursday, November 3
Block told Fox the campaign changed its mind; Anderson wasn't the source after all. "All the evidence that we had of what transpired in the last two weeks added up that Mr. Anderson was the source. We were absolutely thrilled he came on your show and said that it wasn't because Mr. Cain had always had the utmost respect for him." So much respect that he didn't bother to call Anderson and ask, Hey did you rat me out? Block continued, "We accept what Mr. Anderson had said and we want to move on with the campaign."

Later that same day...
Cain went on Sean Hannity's radio show, apparently having not gotten the memo about the truce with Anderson. First, he blamed Forbes for the accusations against Perry. "A reporter did this research and came up with these facts, we didn't ... That was the reporter that wrote the report for Forbes," Cain said, according to The Hill. And yet! Cain still blames Perry, saying he didn't "see any other way this could have come out" and "there aren't enough breadcrumbs that leads us to any other place." And yet!! Cain's not even entirely sure he told Anderson about the sexual harassment claims. "I am almost certain that I did. … This is why we want to get off this merry-go-round," Cain said.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.