Herman Cain points at Rick Perry, who accuses Mitt Romney

Published: Thursday, Nov. 3 2011 10:22 a.m. MDT

Republican presidential candidate, Herman Cain answers questions at the National Press Club in Washington, Monday, Oct., 31, 2011.

Associated Press

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Herman Cain has shifted gears in his response to the sexual harassment allegations threatening to derail his presidential campaign. His newest tactic: accuse Texas Gov. Rick Perry of orchestrating the leaks that led Politico to break the story Sunday.

Politico reports that Cain, speaking Wednesday evening at a tele-town hall meeting hosted by TheTeaParty.net, proclaimed, "We've been able to trace it back to the Perry campaign that stirred this up in order to discredit me. The fingerprints of the Rick Perry campaign are all over this, based on our sources."

The Los Angeles Times reports Team Cain is specifically claiming "that Curt Anderson, GOP consultant who worked on Cain's 2004 U.S. Senate bid and who now works for Perry, leaked the information to the press. Cain said he briefed Anderson on one allegation of harassment stemming from his time as head of at the National Restaurant Association in the late 1990s."

In turn, Perry's campaign responded with a strong denial and thinly veiled accusation that Mitt Romney's people are the real catalysts behind the initial leak to Politico.

"Rick Perry's presidential campaign says it is 'absolutely not' responsible for leaking the fact that Herman Cain was accused of sexual misconduct," CBS News reports. "Perry communications director Ray Sullivan (suggested) to CBS News and National Journal reporter Rebecca Kaplan that Mitt Romney's campaign is behind the allegations. 'I wouldn't put it past them,' he said, stating that blog posts have noted that Cain's successor at the Restaurant Association 'is a big Romney donor.'"

So what does all this hullabaloo mean for the White House ambitions of Cain, who leads the field of Republican presidential candidates by a wide margin in Positive Intensity Score, a Gallup metric computed as "the percentage (of voters) with a strongly favorable opinion of a candidate minus the percentage with a strongly unfavorable opinion?" Well, New York Times elections guru Nate Silver is very concerned about Cain's candidacy moving forward.

"I've spent a lot of time on this blog defending Herman Cain. … So I think it's only fair to tell you when I think he might have a real problem on his hands. And I've become convinced that the sexual harassment allegations against Mr. Cain are a real problem."

EMAIL: jaskar@desnews.com

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