Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain on Monday called himself the victim of a “witch hunt,” saying stories about him being “falsely accused of sexual harassment” are surfacing only because of his rise in the polls.
During a National Press Club luncheon, Cain responded to a story published Sunday by Politico. The article reported that two women accused him of acting inappropriately while he led the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s. Cain said that in all of his business experience, “I have never sexually harassed anyone.”
“I told you this bulls-eye on my back has gotten bigger,” Cain said. “We have no idea the source of this witch hunt, which is what it really is.”
He added: “As far as we’re concerned, enough is said about the issue. There is nothing else to dig up.”
Asked to discuss the allegations in detail, Cain said: “I would be delighted to clear the air.”
“While at the National Restaurant Association, I was accused of sexual harassment – falsely accused, I might add,” he said. “I was falsely accused of sexual harassment and when the charges were brought, as the leader of the organization, I recused myself and allowed my general counsel and my human resources officer to deal with the situation.”
“And it was concluded by a thorough investigation that it had no basis,” Cain said. “As far as the settlement, I am unaware of any sort of settlement. I hope it wasn’t for much, because I didn’t do anything.” (RELATED: Cain campaign accuses Politico of ‘unsubstantiated personal attacks’)
Politico didn’t name its sources or the identities of the two women who reportedly “complained to colleagues and senior association officials about inappropriate behavior by Cain” while he served as head of the National Restaurant Association. The outlet also didn’t report in detail exactly what Cain was accused of. (RELATED: Cain Campaign accuses Politico of ‘unsubstantiated personal attacks’)
“I would draw your attention to the three people mentioned at the end of the article that were at the Restaurant Association – the past chairman, chairman and the incoming chairman of the board —who would have known about this if it had in fact turned out to be a charge with some validity, but it was not,” Cain said.
During the luncheon, Cain also spoke about his views on foreign policy, his 9-9-9 tax reform plan and — at the end — sang a song for the audience.