Herman Cain (36149)

For Herman Cain, the podium was his witness stand as he stood stiffly erect in front of five limp flags in what his lawyer, Lin Wood, termed the “court of public opinion.”

Cain wasn’t sworn in at this press conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., Tuesday evening, but his testimony bore all the special hallmarks of an accused man fighting for his political life.

“I have never acted inappropriately with anyone, period,” said Cain, one of the leading contenders for the GOP presidential nomination. This was a phrase he repeated often when denying all allegations of sexual harassment.

As we go to press, it has been reported that four women have accused Cain of sexually harassing them during his tenure as president of the National Restaurant Association. The latest, Karen Kraushaar, 55, the second to go public with her allegations, is currently employed at the U.S. Treasury.

When asked to supply details of the allegations made by Kraushaar, Cain said he could only recall meeting her one day in his office and comparing her height to that of his wife’s. “My secretary was sitting there all the time,” he said, insisting these were the only details he could recall.

During another question from the press about Kraushaar, which may have constituted the cross examination in the court of public opinion, he noted that her complaint had been found to be baseless. He explained that a payment made to her was “an agreement not a settlement…a settlement has legal implications.”

Since the story broke last week, Cain, 65, has offered various accounts of the incidents without any clarity. He had promised to use the press conference as a forum in which to set the record straight.

In his opening statement, Cain said, “The Democratic machine has brought forth a troubled woman to make false accusations.” However, during the question period from the press, he modified the claim, adding that he was in no position to say who was to blame and whether there was a conspiracy to keep him from “becoming the president.”

Of the possibility of his pulling out of the race, he stated, “It’s not gonna happen,” on several occasions. “I’m in it to win it.” Since the case was a matter of “he said, she said,” Cain was asked if he would be willing to take a lie detector test. “I would, if there was good reason-if necessary,” he snapped.

While the full details of Kraushaar’s allegations have not been revealed (she did refer to him as a “monster”), a full and graphic account was delivered by Sharon Bialek during her press conference as her attorney, Gloria Allred, stood by.

Bialek said that Cain put his hand on her thigh, reached toward her genitals and forced himself on her while they sat in his car. In the press conference, Cain said this did not happen, though, unlike in his previous statement, he stopped short of blaming her financial problems as a possible motivation for her coming out now, some 14 years later.

It should be noted that Bialek has twice filed for personal bankruptcy, which may be why Cain believes finances to be part of her motivation for speaking out.

According to her attorney, Kraushaar is thinking of arranging a press conference with all of the accusing women. She feels she would be more comfortable speaking openly with all of the women present, though two of them have so far chosen to remain anonymous.

If there’s a judge in the court of public opinion, it may be the polls; one conducted immediately among Republicans after Bialek’s allegations were made showed that 38 percent believed her while 38 percent did not. Forty percent said they viewed Cain less favorably.

It was reported that Cain remains just about even in public opinion with Mitt Romney, and that he has raised $1.2 million since the scandal broke.

But the final verdict may not yet come for weeks. If Cain’s intuition is correct, there may be even more women who come forward with gripes about gropes from the presidential hopeful.