GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain, combating allegations that he sexually harassed an employee in the 1990s, suspects an aide to one of his rivals, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, is the source of the damaging story that broke earlier this week.
In an interview with Forbes magazine, Cain says that he told Curt Anderson, whose consulting firm recently was hired by Perry's campaign, about the sexual-harassment allegations in 2004. At the time, Anderson was serving as a consultant to Cain's unsuccessful campaign for a U.S. Senate seat in Georgia.
“I told him that there was only one case, one set of charges, one woman while I was at the National Restaurant Association,” Cain told Forbes. “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.”
Anderson now works for OnMessage, a consulting group recently hired to promote Perry’s presidential campaign. Cain said he told Anderson about the sexual-harassment charges in 2003 in what he describes as “typical campaign conversation” with someone he trusted.
Anderson and Perry's campaign are denying any involvement with the story. Another source, Republican pollster Chris Wilson, said he witnessed Cain engaging in inappropriate behavior with a woman, but maintains that he was not the original source of the story about the sexual-harassment charges, first reported by Politico.
In an interview later in the day on Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, Cain's campaign manager, Mark Block, repeated his boss's allegations about the Perry camp but with stronger language. "The actions of the Perry campaign are despicable," said Block. "Rick Perry and his campaign owe Herman Cain and his family an apology."
Block said Cain has assured him that he never engaged in sexual harassment. Regarding an Associated Press report citing a third, anonymous woman making claims against Cain, Block said: "I would challenge anybody that has these statements to be made to come forward with the person making the statements. Face Mr. Cain."