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Charlie Sykes: Sykes Writes

The Cain Crackup?

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After reading this Dana Milbank piece from the Washington Post, I had to ask: can Herman Cain possibly come back from this? The answer is: he could if (1) he was a more experienced candidate, (2) he has a strong, competent, talented campaign team. He is/has neither. The whole focus on who leaked the harassment stories is beside the point: what matters is whether they are true and whether voters will find the accusations credible. A smarter candidate/staff would recognize that.

 

The Hermanator is now the hunted.

Herman Cain, the long-shot Republican presidential candidate turned frontrunner, has done just about everything wrong since news broke Sunday night that his former employer had paid two women to settle sexual harassment complaints against him.

Cain denied it. He said the women didn’t understand his humor. He said his accusers fabricated the charges. He said he couldn’t remember the details, then suddenly he could. He said he had no knowledge of the settlement, then suddenly recalled some details, which turned out to be vastly understated. He publicly predicted more allegations would surface. He blamed his opponents, he howled about racism, and he accused the media and the entire city of Washington of trying to do him in.

On Wednesday morning, he raised the paranoia dial another notch. “There are factions trying to destroy me personally, and this campaign,” he announced, revealing this conspiracy to a group of technology executives at the Ritz-Carlton in Tyson’s Corner.

At his next stop, a Hilton hotel in Alexandria, the amiable candidate finally blew his stack – and the scene quickly escalated into violence. It began when a reporter asked Cain if he would release his accusers from their confidentiality agreements.

“I’m not going to talk about it,” Cain snapped, “so don’t even bother asking me all of these other questions that y’all are curious about. Okay? Don’t even bother.”

“It’s a good question,” the reporter pointed out. “Are you concerned?” asked another.

Evidently, Cain was. “What did I say?” he hissed at the reporters, then attempted to break through the pack, shouting: “Excuse me. Excuse me! EXCUSE ME!” At that, his bodyguards began throwing elbows and shoving the reporters and photographers. “Stand back! . . . Do not push me! . . . Pushing is against the law!. . . Watch out!. . . Get a grip on yourself!” In the melee, a young boy and his father were shoved up against a wall.

His campaign’s fisticuffs with Washington journalists probably won’t do Cain any harm among his supporters in Iowa; in fact, it will probably help. But Cain’s loss of control is a reminder of why he’s never going to be president, no matter how high he rises in GOP primary polls. 

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