Cain Speaks On Sexual Misconduct Allegations

GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain undertook his first serious interviews since the allegations by a Chicago woman on Monday of sexual misconduct when she was seeking help from Cain during a job hunt. NPR's Tamara Keith joins Robert Siegel to explain.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Guy Raz.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. Herman Cain is once again rejecting allegations of sexual harassment. The Republican presidential candidate has been accused of making unwanted advances toward several female employees, and a woman seeking job advice, back in the 1990s. He was the head of the National Restaurant Association at the time. Cain is making repeated appearances now, to defend himself. Meantime, NPR has learned today details about a woman who received a cash settlement from the association. NPR's Tamara Keith is here.

And Tamara, first, the accusations from the woman from Chicago yesterday were very explicit. What is Mr. Cain saying about those allegations?

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: In short, he's saying he doesn't remember Sharon Bialek. Yesterday, she held a press conference in New York, where she described a night out on the town with Cain. She was there, seeking advice on a job. She says on the way back to her hotel, he pulled the car over and made an unwanted sexual advance. And Cain was interviewed this afternoon by ABC's Jonathan Karl, and asked about that.

JONATHAN KARL: You've heard her accusations. I mean...

HERMAN CAIN: Yes.

KARL: But let's be clear: You're saying that she is lying about this.

CAIN: Yes, I am saying that, you know, in as nice a way as I can. I don't know any other way to say it - because I would first have to recognize who she is.

KARL: You don't remember having drinks with her back in '97? You don't remember ...

CAIN: Absolutely not...

KARL: Giving her a ride in your car...

CAIN: No. I reject all the accusations. I don't remember that and also, I don't remember knowing her.

KEITH: Cain repeated it over and over again. He just doesn't remember, and the allegations are false.

SIEGEL: What about the other women who claimed that he sexually harassed them?

KEITH: Well, he didn't get into specifics. Again, he said that the allegations are baseless.

SIEGEL: Now, NPR is reporting today new details about the woman who last week issued an anonymous statement through her lawyer. We know her name now, is that correct?

KEITH: Yes. So my colleague Liz Halloran has confirmed that the woman is named Karen Kraushaar. She's 55 years old, and does communications for the U.S. Treasury Department. She left the restaurant association in 1999, after filing an internal complaint about sexual harassment by Cain. The association gave her a cash settlement but didn't admit wrongdoing, and Cain denied that he had done anything wrong. And she and her husband have been married for 26 years. They live in suburban Maryland. And she still has no interest in speaking out publicly.

SIEGEL: This controversy has been raging now for 10 days. But poll after poll indicates that Herman Cain is still near the front of the Republican pack. What are Republican insiders saying about all this?

KEITH: Every Republican strategist I have spoken to over this entire time says Herman Cain, and his campaign, are handling this thing horribly. And they are particularly concerned about these new charges, from Sharon Bialek. And now, some of the - some of Cain's opponents, who have hung back because they didn't - you know, there probably wasn't a lot of upside in saying much, now they're - some of them are starting to talk, including Mitt Romney, who earlier today was on ABC.

MITT ROMNEY: I don't want to suppose truth or lack of truth. I just think that it's important to recognize that a number of women have come forward with concerns; this woman's charges are particularly disturbing. And they're serious.

SIEGEL: Of course, Mitt Romney is one of Herman Cain's opponents, as you say. What about his supporters?

KEITH: Well, I've been calling people today who made donations to Cain in recent months. One woman I spoke to said she doesn't believe the allegations at all; she thinks the new ones are even worse. And she said she actually went on Cain's website today, to donate more money. I spoke to another donor who's given twice. And he says that he's hanging back. He's concerned, and he wants to see how this plays out.

SIEGEL: OK. Thank you, Tamara.

KEITH: Thank you.

SIEGEL: That's NPR's Tamara Keith.

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