Cain refuses to answer question about harassment accusations

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain refused to answer questions Monday morning about a report that two women made sexual harassment allegations against him during the 1990s.

Cain gave a scheduled talk on tax policy, focused on his signature “9-9-9″ tax reform plan, at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. It was his first public appearance since Politico published a story referencing the allegations Sunday night.

When ABC’s Jon Karl asked Cain about the story, AEI moderator Kevin Hassett jumped in and said that Cain would be answering questions on other topics at the National Press Club in Washington later on Monday.

“I think that question is inconsistent with the ground rules,” Hassett told Karl.

“I’m going by the ground rules … set by my host,” Cain said, moving on to another question.

The story published by Politico on Sunday night neither named any sources nor identified the two women who the news outlet said “complained to colleagues and senior association officials about inappropriate behavior by Cain” while he was CEO of the National Restaurant Association.

Cain campaign spokesman J.D. Gordon denied the report in a statement to The Daily Caller.

“Fearing the message of Herman Cain who is shaking up the political landscape in Washington, Inside the Beltway media have begun to launch unsubstantiated personal attacks on Cain,” Gordon wrote.

Politico described the allegations, which date back more than a decade, this way: “These incidents include conversations allegedly filled with innuendo or personal questions of a sexually suggestive nature, taking place at hotels during conferences, at other officially sanctioned restaurant association events and at the association’s offices. There were also descriptions of physical gestures that were not overtly sexual but that made women who experienced or witnessed them uncomfortable and that they regarded as improper in a professional relationship.”

The previously scheduled event at AEI was flush with journalists, who packed into the room and expected Cain to face questions about the Politico story.


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