Cain accuser says she came forward on her own
updated 7:45 a.m.
The woman accusing GOP presidential contender Herman Cain of unwanted sexual advances said she was not paid or promised any employment in exchange for making her allegations publicly.
“I’m just doing this because it’s the right thing to do,” Sharon Bialek told ABC in an interview Tuesday morning.
She and her lawyer criticized Cain for seeming to make light of the allegations that Cain groped under her skirt and sought a sexual act when she came to him for advice on getting a job more than a dozen years ago.
“I don’t think there is anything funny about this subject,” Bialek, a Chicago homemaker and single mother. “And for him to do that is just deplorable.”
Cain, who at the time headed the National Restaurant Association, vehemently denied the harassment allegations in a television appearance Monday night. After days of refusing to discuss the specifics of the allegations being made against him, he has scheduled a news conference for Tuesday afternoon to ”set the record straight.”<iframe style=”” frameborder=”0” width=”454” height=”255”marginwidth=”0” marginheight=”0”src=”http://specials.washingtonpost.com/mv/embed/?title=Herman%20Cain%3A%20%27We%20are%20taking%20this%20head-on%27&stillURL=http%3A//media.washingtonpost.com/media/images/2011/11/08/11082011-18v_480x270.jpg&flvURL=/media/2011/11/08/11082011-18v.m4v&width=454&height=255&autoStart=false&clickThru=&jsonURL=/media/meta/2011/11/08/11082011-18v.jsn”><p>Your Browser DoesNot Support IFrames.</p></iframe>
“There is not an ounce of truth in all of the accusations, and my team is putting this stuff together,” he said Monday. “That’s why I’m willing to do a press conference.”
Bialek, the fourth woman to make allegations against Cain but the first to do so publicly, said lawyer Gloria Allred has taken her case pro-bono. Bialek denied suggestions by the Cain campaign that she was given money or promised a job in return for making her allegations publicly.
Cain has suggested that the allegations against him are both racially motivated and orchestrated by the campaign of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, which Perry has denied. But Bialek said that she has not had any contact with any other Republican presidential campaign.
Appearing on both ABC’s “Good Morning America” and CNN, Bialek insisted that she was telling her story to give a voice to the other allegations, which involve women who have chosen not to come forward. She urged Cain to be upfront at his news conference later Tuesday.
“It’s not too late. He can step forward and just end it,” Bialek said. “I don’t want to be here. I don’t think anyone wants to. End it by saying ‘I did these things.’”
The news conference is an about-face for the Cain campaign, which dug in its heels late last week and refused to answer questions about the allegations in detail, seeking to refocus the conversation away from the scandal and back onto his 9-9-9 tax plan and national security.
But that strategy changed after Monday’s news conference by Bialek, a woman who gave a name and a face to what had been anonymous allegations.
Bialek laid out in graphic detail an alleged encounter, and her words effectively changed Cain’s strategy. The Republican nominee said he watched the press conference with his staff in San Francisco.
“We watched it because we didn’t even know that this whole thing about woman number 4 was going to even come out, so that was a surprise,” he said, in an interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live that aired early Tuesday morning. “At least it wasn’t one of the many that have the first name anonymous. This one actually had a name and face. We are dealing with it. We are taking this head-on.”
Tuesday in Arizona, Cain will sit down with an ABC News reporter and stand before a gaggle of reporters and respond to Bialek’s allegations.
Over the past few days, a growing chorus of prominent Republicans like Karl Rove, Bill Bennett, and Cain’s opponents Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman said that Cain’s there-is-nothing-to-see-here strategy was untenable and said that the White House contender must say more, and say more right now.
Cain said that his previous strategy no longer applied to the new allegations of sexual misconduct.
“When I made a statement that I’m done talking about this, I was talking about the firestorm last week, I wasn’t talking about this new firestorm that we discovered [Monday],” he said. “We are going to talk about this one...I will talk about any and all future firestorms.”
Cain’s aides offered Monday night a glimpse of the new strategy, raising questions about Bialek’s motives and Allred, a high-profile celebrity attorney and Democratic donor.
Cain spokesman J.D. Gordon pointed to Cain’s “opponents,” arguing that they convinced “a woman with a long history of severe financial difficulties, including personal bankruptcy, to falsely accuse the Republican front-runner.”
Bialek, who worked at the National Restaurant Association in the late 1990s and sought Cain out for career advice after being terminated, has said that her motive was simply to get Cain to “come clean.”
“I know what happened and he knows what happened,” Bialek said in a CNN interview. “My whole objective was to give him the opportunity to come forward, to redeem himself.”
Allred, who has represented other high-profile women, framed the question in this he-said-she-said scandal like this on CNN: “Are they going to believe the word of four women,” she said. “Or are they going to believe the word of one man, Herman Cain, who has every motive to deny it? And that is the really going to be the question for the voters.”
Speaking on Jimmy Kimmel Monday night, Cain, whose affable manner and up-from-poverty story has endeared him to debate audiences and tea party crowds, drew applause from the audience and laughs from Kimmel as they discussed UFOs and Godfather’s Pizza.
Kimmel introduced Cain as the latest castoff of Dancing With the Stars, and the man who put the number 9 back on the map.
At one point, Cain made light of the allegations, saying that he would advise other candidates to face similar accusations, since his fundraising has benefitted — the Cain campaign has said that it has raised $2 million since the allegations first surfaced Oct. 30.
Cain also said that his wife watched Bialek’s press conference and called her husband with her impressions:
“The things that that woman described, she said, that doesn’t even sound like you, and I’ve known you for 45 years,” Cain recalled his wife saying to him after she watched the press conference in Atlanta. “My own wife said that I wouldn’t do anything as silly as what that lady was talking about.”
Gloria Cain has remained absent from the campaign trail and from Cain’s tour of media outlets — the campaign had been in talks with Fox News for a sit-down interview, but nothing has been scheduled yet.
Bialek said she anticipated the backlash questions that were to come about her motives and background. “I’m a strong woman, I can get through this,” she said Monday night on CNN where she appeared with her lawyer. “And this too shall pass.”
Gordon, a Cain aide who fielded a barrage of calls from reporters Monday night, echoed those words when he repeated the Cain campaign’s stance in a phone interview.
“What we see is just an orchestrated smear campaign by people who are threatened by his message,” Gordon said. “This too shall pass.”
WHERE TO FIND THE CANDIDATES:
Rick Santorum will be in Nashua, N.H., greeting voters at polling places at 6:30 a.m. He then heads to Manchester at 8 a.m.; he hosts a townhall meeting at Raymond Safety Complex in Nashua at noon, and at 3 p.m., he heads to his headquarters in Bedford to meet campaign volunteers.
Michele Bachmann hosts a fundraising luncheon at Seawell’s in Columbia, S.C. at 12:30 p.m.
Jon Huntsman in Coral Gables, Florida at 8:10 a.m. ET
Michele Bachmann in Charleston, S.C., at 9:30 a.m. ET
Ron Paul in Clute, Texas, at 11 a.m.ET
Rick Perry in Austin, Texas, at 11:15 p.m. ET
Mitt Romney in Chicago at 12:15 p.m. ET
Rick Santorum in Manchester, N.H., at 2 p.m. ET
Herman Cain in Scottsdale, Ariz., at 2:30 p.m. ET
Newt Gingrich in Washington, D.C. at 3 p.m. ET
What to expect this election day
Iowa conservatives say new Cain allegations are tipping point
Bachmann camp still hopeful in Iowa
Anita Hill on Herman Cain and sexual harassment
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