Back to previous page


Will Gloria Cain matter?

By ,

In the first televised interview that Herman Cain gave two weeks ago to respond to allegations that he had sexually harassed and settled with two women while he was president of the National Restaurant Association, he played “the wife card,” revealing that his wife, Gloria Cain, would sit for an interview. David Goldman AP In this May 21, 2011 photo, Gloria Cain, left, accompanies her husband Herman Cain as he announces his run for Republican candidate for president in Atlanta.

That interview has finally happened.

Scheduled to air Monday night at 10 p.m. Eastern time on Greta Van Susteren’s “On the Record,” (Fox News), the interview will add another voice, another layer, and another news cycle to a narrative that for two weeks has defined, yet not derailed, Cain’s quixotic campaign for president.

According to an early transcript provided by Fox News, Gloria Cain told Van Susteren that the allegations offer an unfamiliar and, she believes, inaccurate picture of the man she has known for 45 years.

“You hear the graphic allegations, and we know that would have been something that’s totally disrespectful of her as a woman. And I know the type of person he is. He totally respects women,” Cain said .“I’m thinking he would have to have a split personality to do the things that were said.”

What will she add to the picture?

“I think some people will ask themselves why it took so long for her to come out,” said Judy Smith, a crises management expert who helped Monica Lewinsky and Michael Vick, among others. “The public is a little more cautious of what it means when a wife comes out and how much credibility to give what she says. What would you expect a wife to say?”

Herman Cain and his advisers have insisted that the allegations are not only untrue, but that the swirling, he-said-she-said controversy has only helped his campaign. Recent poll numbers, and the $2.25 million that the Cain campaign has said it has raked in since the story broke, seem to back up their argument.

The roaring applause Cain got at the CNBC debate when he responded to the accusations also suggests some visceral support for Cain within the Republican base. He has become the lightning rod among hardcore Republicans, who believe he has been victimized by liberals and the media.

Yet as much as Cain and his supporters suggest that the allegations haven’t damaged the former Godfather’s CEO, there is clearly a fraying of support among Republican women. Cain currently has the support of 15 percent of Republican women, a drop of 13 percentage points since October.

Which is where Gloria Cain, potentially, comes in, serving as a kind of character witness for husband and validator for their marriage. But the ritual of a wife “standing by her man” is by now a cliche, and likely not as effective as it once was, Smith said.

“Women have done this before, and it turns out that the claims made by other women were accurate,” Smith said. “So the public, women in particular, are looking at this very differently than they may have in the past.”

© The Washington Post Company