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Herman Cain bodyguard gets physical with reporter

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URBANDALE, Iowa -- A bodyguard for presidential candidate Herman Cain got a little physical with a Post reporter at an event in Iowa on Tuesday in the midst of the campaign’s battle to regain its footing in the wake of damaging sexual harassment allegations against the candidate.

Charlie Neibergall

AP

Herman Cain arrives to meet with local residents during a campaign stop at Manna Java World Cafe, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011, in Dubuque, Iowa.

When the bodyguard asked the reporter (okay, me) to move to a different location while waiting for Cain to exit the Machine Shed restaurant here, I politely declined.

After a little back-and-forth, the bodyguard made it known that he would physically prevent me from asking a question of the GOP presidential candidate, and then started backing into me with his back and shoulder. The incident wasn’t what I would call violent.

In any case, it offers a window into the Cain campaign’s dealings with the press at this pivotal point in the race. Here’s the blow-by-blow (so to speak) from the recording:

At the Tuesday event, Cain’s bodyguard summoned me from my spot near the side door of the restaurant from which Cain, it was clear, would be exiting. The bodyguard said he wanted me to move further away so the campaign could shoot a video in the area. When I asked whether I would get to ask Cain a question, the bodyguard said no. He and another aide explained that Cain had already answered media questions.

True, Cain had, but I arrived at the time the event was slated to start at 3:30 p.m., and the media availability had already concluded.

Me: I’d prefer to be over there. If he’s going to come out the side door, then I’m going to be over there.

Bodyguard: But I’m asking you to stand over this way while we film this thing we’re about to do. We’re trying to do something, OK?

Me: But what shot is he taking right now?

Bodyguard: Sir, do you want to play this game?

Me: Well, if he’s not going to come out the front door…

(Talking over each other)

Me: … I’m going to be at the side door.

Bodyguard: You want to play this game?

Me: Yeah, I do.

Bodyguard: OK… (again asks me to move to the parking lot)

Me: I’m sorry, I don’t have to do that, and I’m not going to. If he’s not going to come out the front door, then I’m going to stand by the side door.

Bodyguard: I’m gonna tell you, I’m not gonna let you get it. I’m gonna tell you, you won’t ask a question.

Me: That’s fine.

Bodyguard: I will stand in front of you, I will block you.

(He begins to back into me with his back and shoulder.)

Me: You can touch me as much as you want to, but I wouldn’t recommend it. I wouldn’t recommend touching me like that.

Bodyguard: (indistinguishable) … (If) you put your hands on me when I step in front of you, we’re going to play the game.

Me: I’m not going to touch you. You’re the one that touched me. What’s your name, sir?

(No response)

Bodyguard: … stand over there. You don’t want to do that? You want to be a hard hitter? Fine, we’ll play.

Me: OK. That’s fine. If you want to bump me over, that’s fine.

Bodyguard: We’ll play.

UPDATE: For what it’s worth, a tipster points out that a Cain bodyguard did something similar last week and that his team also shoved reporters in the early days of the sexual harassment controversy.

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