The Cain camp’s handling of the allegations of sexual harassment have been downright bad. Since the release of the Politico piece that broke the story of the allegations, the messages coming from the Cain campaign have been contradictory and unconvincing. Most recently they have taken to blaming the Perry campaign for releasing the information that led to the Politico story. In a recent interview with Fox News, Cain’s Chief of Staff, Mark Block, called on the Perry camp to apologize. Rather than clearing anything up, the interview is actually confusing and gives the claims that the entire campaign is genuinely unintelligent even more legitimacy.
Block says the the report from Politico “wasn’t true” and criticizes their use of anonymous sources. But the Politico article has been shown to be true in every respect. All the major aspects of the Politico story has been corroborated by other reports and even the Cain campaign itself. Even if the allegations themselves are false, the Politico story never made any conclusive claim about Cain’s behavior, only stating that it has seen documentation speaking to that behavior. In the prior linked Fox interview Block explicitly states that he and the campaign were aware that these allegations might show up during opposition research. A contradiction of prior statements from the campaign, a mistake Block conceded in the Fox interview.
Ironically, Cain’s claims that the Perry campaign fed Politico the story are based on circumstantial evidence, yet they are making conclusive claims. Their evidence is limited to the fact that someone in the Perry campaign would have known about the story and that the Perry campaign obviously has motive. So they have means, motive and maybe opportunity, but that is not enough convict. Still, the Cain camp makes conclusive statements about something they do not even claim to have direct evidence for, something Politico did not do.
It is clear that the Cain campaign is not sure what to do. Cain campaign spokesman J.D. Gordon has said they simply don’t know what they are responding to. Perhaps this is the confusion that has led to a situation which has worsened as videos of Cain yelling at reporters are making their rounds and reports of a third woman come out. Even Karl Rove has called for the whole episode to be cleared up by the women coming forward to speak about what happened.
The proper response to this is basic crisis communications. Clarity and consistency are two things we are simply not seeing from Cain. If the allegations are false he should speak directly to that fact. Going after Politico or Perry a la Hiliary’s “right wing conspiracy” is a waste of time and it makes him sound guilty.
I cannot imagine a scenario in which this story will go away without some sort of conclusive resolution about what occurred. If Cain is truly innocent perhaps he should listen to Rove and let the all the cards show. But it looks like if and when these women speak out they will come out strongly against the claims of Cain.