Defiant Herman Cain says he won't drop out of race; Mitt Romney says to address allegations
Darryl Webb, Associated Press
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Under rising pressure from fellow Republicans, presidential hopeful Herman Cain sought to muddy the reputation of one accuser, forcefully denied any and all allegations of sexual impropriety and vowed Tuesday the growing controversy would not drive him from the race for the White House.
"Ain't gonna happen," he declared.
Cain flashed defiance one day after a woman publicly accused the candidate of groping her more than a decade ago, adding her voice to three other accusers with allegations that presidential rival Mitt Romney called "particularly disturbing."
Speaking at a news conference, Cain vowed, "we'll get through this," as he sought to steady a campaign that has made him the leader in an unofficial race to emerge as Romney's principal conservative rival.
At one point he said he would be willing to take a lie detector test, but then appeared to hedge his answer seconds later.
The Georgia businessman was in the midst of his second week trying to curtail the furor surrounding his unorthodox campaign. There were signs his political trouble was far from over less than two months before the leadoff contests of the GOP nomination fight.
Romney joined other GOP opponents in urging Cain to answer the allegations. Prominent Republicans pressed for a full accounting. And there were growing indications of unease in conservative circles.
"If there is a pattern then it's a part of his character and then, yes, it is going to matter," Tony Perkins, head of the conservative Family Research Center, said in an interview.
Another name confronted Cain, as well, when one of his two original accusers gave an interview to The New York Times and was identified publicly by news organizations including The Associated Press as Karen Kraushaar, now a spokeswoman in the Treasury Department's office of inspector general for tax administration.
When asked about Kraushaar, Cain said he recalled her accusation of sexual harassment but insisted "it was found to be baseless."
An upstart in the presidential race, Cain shot to the top of opinion polls and emerged in recent weeks as Romney's main opponent, with tea party activists and other conservatives flocking to the former pizza company executive's tell-it-like-it-is style and outsider image.
But, since Oct. 30, he's been dogged by accusations from women that he acted inappropriately toward them while he headed the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s. And in recent days, the women have started to step forward publicly.
At least two women who worked at the restaurant association the same time as Cain filed sexual harassment complaints with the trade group and received financial settlements.
One of them was Kraushaar.
After her name was revealed by several news sites on Tuesday, The AP chose to publish it after independently confirming she was one of his accusers.
Kraushaar and her attorney previously had attempted to keep her name out of the public discussion, but they issued an anonymous statement last week that confirmed she had complained of sexual harassment and received a financial payout from the trade group. Kraushaar later confirmed to news organizations that she had filed the complaint. And she spoke publicly on Tuesday to the Times, saying she had decided to speak out since her name was public.
"When you are being sexually harassed in the workplace, you are extremely vulnerable," she said. "You do whatever you can to quickly get yourself into a job some place safe, and that is what I thought I had achieved when I left."
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