When Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain held a news conference last night to deny accusations that he’s a serial sexual harasser, he assumed a pose we’ve seen before, many times.
Cain, like those before him, was a politician, standing behind a microphone, surrounded by the clicking of cameras. He wagged fingers and denied. From his spot on the dais, Cain employed the tried-and-true techniques so often trotted out by politicians in the headlights of a scandal. And what struck us was his range: he didn’t just pick one tactic, he used them all.
Here’s a guide to eight scandal-combatting strategies Cain used, and whose playbooks he ripped off:
Cain: “The charges and the accusations I absolutely reject. They simply didn’t happen. They simply did not happen.”
Reminds us of: “We know for sure I didn’t send this photograph.” — former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.).
Cain: “They call it an agreement. Settlement implies legal implications.”
Reminds us of: “It depends upon what the meaning of is is.” — Bill Clinton.
Trash-talk the accuser
Cain: “The Democrat machine in America has brought forth a troubled woman to make false accusations.”
Reminds us of: “Didn't Mary Heffernan have a nervous breakdown?” — Former Sen. Robert Packwood (R-Ore.), reportedly, trying to impugn a woman who accused him of sexual harassment.
Blame the media
Cain: “Nine days ago, the media started to beat me up covering anonymous accusers.”
Reminds us of: Um, all of them.
Play the victim
Cain: “Was it tough last week? Yes. Has it been tough the last couple of days? Yes.” Also see: “ I have always seen situations where women have sexually — attempted to sexually harass men.”
Reminds us of: “My family and I have been relentlessly and viciously harassed by the Idaho Statesman... In pleading guilty, I overreacted because of the stress of the Idaho Statesman and its investigation.” — Sen. Larry Craig (R-Iowa)
Blame political enemies
Cain: “We are not going to allow Washington or politics to deny me the opportunity to represent this great nation.”
Reminds us of: “My admission has incurred some longtime political enemies and those hoping to profit from this situation to spread falsehoods, too.” — Sen. David Vitter (R-La.)
Invoke the wife
Cain: “I have been married for 43 years to my wife, Gloria... My wife said, ‘that doesn’t even sound like anything that you would ever do to anyone.’”
Reminds us of: “I've been in love with the same woman for 30-plus years, and as anybody who's been around us knows, she's an extraordinary human being; warm, loving, beautiful, sexy and as good a person as I have ever known.” — former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.).
Sneak in a commercial
Cain: “I have managed many entities, many companies. I have managed organizations with thousands and thousands and thousands of employees.”
Reminds us of: “We sought to bring real change to New York, and that will continue.” — former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer.