Defiant Herman Cain says he won't drop out of race; Mitt Romney says to address allegations

By Shannon Mccaffrey

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 8 2011 4:55 p.m. MST

Kraushaar, 55, previously worked as a news reporter, and she has held other U.S. government jobs since she left the restaurant association after she settled her complaint against Cain. She also has written a children's book with her mother-in-law, "Gas Station Charley," about a dog. Her husband, Kevin, has worked as a lobbyist on environmental, municipal and health issues. He has donated money to both Democrats and Republicans. They live in suburban Maryland.

A third woman told The AP last week that she considered filing a workplace complaint against Cain over what she deemed sexually suggestive remarks and gestures that included an invitation to his corporate apartment. And a former pollster for the restaurant association has said he witnessed yet another episode involving a different woman.

The AP has not identified the other woman who filed a claim against Cain while working at the restaurant association. It also has not identified the third woman, who did not file a claim, because it promised confidentiality to her because she said she feared retaliation if her name became public.

Sharon Bialek came forward Monday to say that Cain, an acquaintance, groped her in car in July 1997 after they'd had dinner in Washington. Cain led the association at the time, and the unemployed Bialek was seeking job advice. She said she had been fired from her job raising money for the trade group's education arm — told, she said, that she had not raised enough money.

Early Tuesday, Cain's campaign sought to undercut her credibility.

It issued a tough statement about Bialek including references to civil lawsuits in the Cook County Court system in Illinois allegedly relating to her and cited news reports of her involvement in a paternity case and a bankruptcy filing.

"In stark contrast to Mr. Cain's four decades spent climbing the corporate ladder rising to the level of CEO at multiple successful business enterprises, Ms. Bialek has taken a far different path," the campaign said.

It also questioned whether Bialek had a financial interest in stepping forward.

"Who is financing her legal team, have any media agreed to pay for her story, and has she been offered employment for taking these actions?"

In a round of media interviews, Bialek was asked repeatedly about her motives in speaking out after staying quiet for 14 years.

"I'm just doing this because it's the right thing to do," she said. She said she was neither paid nor offered a job to go public with her allegations. She said she waited so long to come forward because "I was embarrassed ... and I just kind of wanted it to go away."

She said she wasn't paying a fee to Gloria Allred, the attorney whose name has become synonymous with women's rights issues.

Late in the day, Cain fought back, standing before a crush of reporters at a hotel on the outskirts of Phoenix. Outside, protesters waved signs that read: "Hey Herman. How many more women will you be calling liars?"

Cain said he called the news conference because he wanted to speak directly to the public, accusing the media of distorting his response to the allegations. He said he had never seen Bialek until she called her news conference on Monday in New York, alongside attorney Allred.

"I don't even know who this woman is," he said of Bialek. "I tried to remember if I recognized her and I didn't."

Cain said it was "a remote possibility" when asked if it were possible he would recall Bialek's alleged incident in the future.

"I seriously doubt I'm going to have an 'a-ha' moment later," he said.

Cain contended that "the Democratic machine" was pushing the allegations but said he could not point to anyone in particular. He also suggested his accusers were lying.

Earlier, Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who has been a GOP front-runner for months, told ABC News/Yahoo! the allegations were serious "and they're going to have to be addressed seriously." He called the latest accusations disturbing, and Cain didn't disagree.

"He's right. They are disturbing to me," Cain responded. "They are serious. And I have taken them seriously."

But they're untrue, he declared.

Other Republicans sounded alarms about Cain's troubles and the impact on the GOP race as the party gears up to try to defeat President Barack Obama next fall.

"Get all the facts in front of people, otherwise he's going to have this continuing distraction," Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a former Republican National Committee chairman with deep ties to the GOP establishment, told MSNBC.

Though recent polling shows Cain still doing well, party operatives suggested it was only a matter of time before his political standing could suffer.

"Herman's base is going to stick with him," said Republican strategist Rick Tyler, Newt Gingrich's former spokesman. "But the average Republican voter who is not as engaged as intensely in the race, is sick of this and, for Cain, the concern is they will pass on it and pass on him."

Cain looked to keep those supporters in his corner.

"We are not going to allow Washington or politics to deny me the opportunity to represent this great nation," he said.

"As far as these accusations causing me to back off and maybe withdraw from this presidential primary race? Ain't gonna happen. Because I'm doing this for the American people, and the children and the grandchildren."

McCaffrey reported from Atlanta. Associated Press writers David Espo in Washington and Becky Bohrer in Alaska contributed.

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