THE WOODLANDS, Tex. — Herman Cain had survived 90 minutes of debating Newt Gingrich here, and seven minutes fielding softballs from the press afterwards, without anybody uttering the words “sexual harassment.”

Herman Cain (AP)

He might have concluded that his tumultuous week finally was over.

But then he was asked at a post-debate news conference about the complaints of sexual harassment filed by two former subordinates at the National Restaurant Association. Before this Washington Post reporter could state his question, Cain cut him off.

“Don’t even go there,” Cain snapped.

“Can I ask my question?” this reporter said.


Gena Cook, one of the debate organizers, shouted: “No gossip!”

“Where’s my chief of staff?” Cain asked, signaling for campaign manager Mark Block, who was standing in the back of the room.

“Please send him the journalistic code of ethics,” Cain instructed Block.

Cain then asked reporters if they had “a good question.”

A few minutes later, Cain stood up to leave. A few reporters asked him to answer the question about the harassment claims. He replied that “everything had been answered.” When one reporter asked if he intended to never again address the allegations, he said: “You got it.”

“If you all just listen for 30 seconds, I will explain this one time,” Cain said, adding: “We are getting back on message. End of story. Back on message.”

At that, Cain exited a meeting room here at The Woodlands Resort & Conference Center. And Block handed his business cards to reporters, saying they should e-mail him if they want a copy of the journalistic code of ethics.