The Washington Post

As Cain visits Capitol Hill, House Republicans play down harassment allegations

(Dave Martin/AP)

Businessman Herman Cain was greeted on Capitol Hill on Wednesday afternoon by a media frenzy — and a host of House Republicans who dismissed the harassment allegations facing the GOP presidential hopeful and onetime National Restaurant Association chief.

“There’s no evidence of anything,” Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.) said after a meeting between Cain and the GOP members of Georgia’s House delegation. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s a non-issue.”

Cain, who earlier Wednesday addressed a meeting of the Congressional Health Care Caucus, spent his afternoon hosting a meet-and-greet attended by about four dozen House Republican lawmakers at the Capitol Hill Club. The Georgia native then attended the weekly meeting of the “G-8” — the eight House Republicans who hail from the Peach State — next door at the Republican National Committee.

Lawmakers who attended the meetings with Cain were largely dismissive of the accusations swirling around the GOP presidential contender from his time as NRA chief in the 1990s.

“Tell us what it is and then let’s move on and talk about what you’re doing for the country,” Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) said of the charges against Cain. “Everybody’s got stuff. Your profession’s got to grow up. We as politicians need to grow up. The American people need to grow up.”

Asked whether he believed the accusations may hurt Cain’s campaign, Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.), who attended the Health Care Caucus meeting and the later Capitol Hill Club meet-and-greet, shook his head.

“Not at this point. Not the way it’s looking right now,” he said.

And Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), who invited Cain to the health care meeting earlier in the day, said that he would “have no problem if he’s the standard-bearer for our side.”

“I think he’s a good person with a good heart who’s doing what he thinks is the right thing,” Burgess said.

Cain’s meetings with lawmakers on Capitol Hill came as the Associated Press reported that a third woman now claims that she was harassed by the White House hopeful.

Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) and several other members who attended the Georgia delegation event said Wednesday afternoon they weren’t aware of the new allegations and that Cain didn’t bring them up in their meeting. But according to Gingrey, Cain told the members that his campaign planned to release a “very positive” statement later in the day.

“He said that there may be something coming out this afternoon, but we didn’t discuss that hardly at all,” Gingrey said. “Nobody asked any questions [about the harassment allegations]. I think we’re all keeping up with the news media and reading about this, but Herman did indicate to us that there would be something coming out this afternoon, so maybe within the hour, possibly.”


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