As GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain decried allegations of sexual harassment by a suburban woman, he insisted he “didn’t even know” his accuser.
Yet, eyewitness accounts have him in close, one-to-one conversation with Sharon Bialek of Glenview last month at a Midwest Tea Party Convention in Schaumburg.
That misstep in Cain’s and his campaign team’s handling of the allegations is damaging the Georgia businessman’s recent surge in the polls.
“To say that the Cain campaign is handling this like amateurs is insulting to amateurs,” said Ford O’Connell, Republican strategist and former presidential campaign aide for McCain-Palin in 2008. “It should have never gotten this far.
“Essentially they’ve walked into a trap and I don’t see a lot of ways out for them.”
Cain “has complete amnesia and I think he believes himself; pathological liars usually do those kinds of things,” Bialek told ABC News on Wednesday en route to a MSNBC interview in Chicago.
Cain, at a news conference Tuesday, said, “I tried to remember if I recognized her and I didn’t.”
Eyewitnesses point to at least one public encounter between the two.
Cain, who has never held elected office, began to surge in the polls early this fall, with his keynote address in Schaumburg only serving to stoke the local fire.
O’Connell points out that the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO is attractive because of three factors — his affability, his easy-to-grasp 9-9-9 tax plan, and his experience as a business executive.
Yet, “part of being a business executive is crisis management,” O’Connell said.
Kent Redfield, political science professor emeritus at the University of Illinois Springfield, said Cain “didn’t know her” statements point to a lack of strategy and a junior campaign that was not ready for prime time.