At election panel, strategists tussle over whether Cain has successfully put to rest questions about sexual harassment and campaign finances
Despite lingering questions about the revelation that Herman Cain was accused of sexual harassment, his top adviser said Tuesday that the story is "done" -- and it is not hurting the campaign.
To the contrary, Mark Block said Cain's campaign took in $250,000 in online contributions Monday, "one of our best fundraising days ever."
If true, that would be a signal that many Cain supporters have sided with the candidate despite his admission that while serving as head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s he was accused of sexual harassment.
Cain's explanation evolved over the course of the day Monday -- he started out saying he didn't know of any financial settlements involved, then later said one woman did get a few months' salary.
"Mr. Cain has never sexually harassed anybody. Period, end of story," Block said on a panel of campaign advisers taking part in an election-preview panel hosted by National Journal.
He added: "If we have to spend every hour of every day responding to these ridiculous accusations, it will take us off our message and our campaign. ... Done. Move on. Let's talk about what the American people want to hear about, and that's jobs."
Block also refused to answer questions about a report that a group he worked for may have made illegal contributions to Cain.
"We have retained independent outside counsel to take a look at the story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and report back to us," Block said. To specific queries about his role in the matter, he repeated variations on that statement.
John Brabender, the media consultant for Rick Santorum, criticized Block's assertion that Cain had resolved the issue and questioned whether he'd been adequately vetted to be the GOP nominee.
"You said that Herman Cain answered every question that he was asked about this issue. The problem was, the answers changed during the day," Brabender said. "If you want to be the front-runner, then I would encourage you to help all Republicans make sure we beat Barack Obama by making sure that your campaign and your candidate is forthcoming."
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Molly Ball is Time magazine’s national political correspondent and a former staff writer at The Atlantic.