A fourth woman accused Herman Cain of sexually harassing her -- on live TV, while showing her face, giving her name, dishing the details, and, perhaps worst of all for the candidate, while being represented by Gloria Allred, the most media-hungry lawyer for women wronged. The woman, Sharon Bialek, said on Monday during a news conference that Cain harassed her when she asked for help while looking for a job. Allred, who has famously represented all kinds of mistreated ladies, from Tiger Woods's mistresses to an actress who said Roman Polanski abused her to the porn star who said then-Rep. Anthony Weiner told her to lie about their sexting, introduced Bialek. But will it matter? After a week of flailing about as he tried to respond to reports that he sexually harassed three women in the 1990s, Herman Cain managed to hold onto his lead in polls -- and he's the candidate the plurality of Republican voters see as the most "honest and trustworthy" and as someone who understands "the problems of people like you," ABC News reports. Maybe more voters than we might expect have been accused of sexual harassment? Cain's candidacy has proven more durable despite many gaffes, and there's some evidence he can hang on even if a woman accuses Cain of saying terrible things as tears stream down her face.
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The Cain campaign has raised $2 million in the last week, USA Today's Fredreka Schouten reports, compared to the $2.8 million it raised in the quarter ending in September. And he hasn't been hurt much in the polls either. Looking at the surveys taken before and after the sexual harassment stories were published last week, The New York Times' Nate Silver says that while Cain is doing better than expected, he's not gaining support as quickly:
"It looks to me as if Mr. Cain had been on a positive trajectory before, perhaps having moved up to about 28 percent of the Republican vote. The two new surveys have him at 23 percent and 26 percent. That’s not bad at all -- a scandal-marred Herman Cain still has as much of the vote as Mitt Romney. But any upward momentum Mr. Cain had has been halted, and he may have lost a couple of points."
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And Silver points out that sometimes it takes a while for bad news to hurt a candidate -- it took about a week for Rick Perry's poor debate performance to start affecting his poll numbers. Silver notes that if Republicans really are ready to move on, they'll be able to check out Cain's rivals in the several debates coming this week. But the first one since the story broke, as Politico's Emily Schultheis, did not force Cain to suffer any body blows. Newt Gingrich and Cain, the only candidates on stage, just took turns saying nice things about each other. Gingrich even declined to discuss Cain's controversial 9-9-9 tax plan. When Gingrich asked Cain what had been the most surprising thing in the campaign, Schultheis notes, Cain responded, "The nit-pickiness of the media," to cheers from the audience. " The audience cheered.
Cain appears to feel betrayed by the media because he loves it so much. (Looking for a friendlier format, perhaps, he's going on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live! Monday night, Schouten reports, though Kimmel isn't always the friendliest.) The New York Times' T.A. Frank warns "if you think the end of the Cain campaign is at hand, remember this: The end of the Cain campaign has been at hand for months. And yet the end doesn't arrive." Cain has survived policy gaffes and he's going to make it through these allegations, Frank predicts. Frank points to Cain's supporters' remarkable patience, demonstrated at a rally for him in Tennessee when several hundred people were forced to wait for 45 minutes in silence while Cain sat with his back to them in a folding chair. Why? He had an interview with Fox News' Mike Huckabee. Cain has been helped by his "healthy self-regard," Frank writes, which has led him to write motivational books and run for president with no experience. "It takes self-regard to keep an audience of several hundred waiting and then to use them as your backdrop while you're taping a Huckabee show ... Of course, that self-regard could also let you assume your attentions are welcomed and cause colleagues to file sexual-harassment complaints. That's the drawback." If that's the case, we could find out Monday afternoon, as Allred's client promises to offer her name and details of what she says Cain did to her.
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