Can Herman Cain Put the Sexual Harassment Story Behind Him?

Herman Cain addresses sexual harassment allegations head on.

By + More

Sunday, Politico broke the story that two former employees of Herman Cain had accused him of harassment when he was CEO of the National Restaurant Associate in the 1990s. According to Politico, the allegations were formally settled with "packages that were in the five-figure range." The story did not publish the names of the women involved in the case "for privacy concerns."

The Cain campaign immediately denied the accusations that Cain sexually harassed anyone. Cain told Fox News, "It is totally baseless and totally false. Never have I ever committed any kind of sexual harassment." His chief of staff Mark Block also defended the presidential candidate, saying, "Herman Cain has never sexually harassed anybody. Period. End of story." However, their responses got a little more ambiguous when it came to the alleged settlement. Block said he was personally not "aware" of any deal. Cain also dodged the question of a possible settlement, telling reporters Sunday, "Have you ever been accused, sir, in your life of harassment by a woman?"

[See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 GOP hopefuls.]

Monday, speaking at the National Press Club, Cain was upfront about the allegations.

Number one, in all of my over 40 years of business experience ... I have never sexually harassed anyone. Number two, while at the restaurant association, I was accused of sexual harassment. Falsely accused, I might add. I was falsely accused of sexual harassment, and when the charges were brought, as the leader of the organization, I recused myself and allowed my general counsel and human resource officer to handle it.

As Ken Walsh pointed out, whether Politico's report was true or not, Cain's response needed be straightforward and to the point if was going to move past the scandal.

Political strategists and crisis managers usually tell their clients to forcefully deny potentially damaging charges in detail if they are untrue, or to release all relevant information immediately to put the furor in the best possible light and relegate it to the past as quickly as possible.

With his statement at the Press Club, Cain appeared to be doing just that. He may be able to move past the scandal and continue to ride his recent surge. Peter Roff insists that the scandal, if anything, is proof of Cain's legitimacy as a candidate.

Someone who would rather not see Cain as the GOP nominee—or who just wants to keep the GOP field in disarray—has injected a highly volatile, potentially campaign and career-ending allegation into the race that has already forced the arguable Republican front-runner onto the defensive.

What do you think? Now that he has addressed the allegations head on, will Herman Cain be able to put the scandal behind him? Take the poll and comment below.

This poll is now closed, but the debate continues in the comments section.

Previously: Should Michele Bachmann Drop out of the 2012 Race?