Oh Herman, we hardly knew ye.
As quickly as the former chief executive of Godfather’s Pizza established himself as perhaps the most unlikely front-runner in modern presidential campaign history, Herman Cainwatched it threaten to fall apart under a steady drip, drip, drip of allegations of sexual harassment lodged against him by women with whom he worked at the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s.
While no candidate could weather these sorts of charges without a campaign hiccup or two, Cain’s reaction has been nothing short of amazing — and not in a good way.
First, he denied any knowledge of settlements made by the NRA with the women. Then he admitted he knew something about it. He started by accusing the media of pushing the story but then transferred blame to a consultant working for Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s presidential bid. Then on Thursday, Cain campaign manager Mark Block walked away from that allegation, urging everyone to just“get on with the campaign.” Ooookay.
The problem for Cain was that every time he and Block opened their mouths — and Cain was oddly ubiquitous in Washington this week — the story changed. And the more the story changed, the more questions arose. And the more questions arose, the fewer airtight answers they had. Hello, vicious cycle!
Cain allies continued to insist that this will ultimately strengthen his campaign, particularly among conservatives who regard the controversy as a smear tactic against an honorable man. And a new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows Cain tied with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney atop the GOP field — at least for now.
Herman Cain, for testing the law of political gravity, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.
Have a candidate for the Worst Week in Washington? E-mail Chris Cillizza at email@example.com.