Cain defends joke about Anita Hill

By Shannon Mccaffrey

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Nov. 11 2011 3:55 p.m. MST

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain is pursued by reporters as he leaves a fundraiser at the Russian Tea Room, Friday, Nov. 11, 2011, in New York.

Mary Altaffer, Associated Press

ATLANTA — Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain — facing allegations of sexual harassment — is defending a joke he made about Anita Hill.

Cain said Friday he was approached at a recent event by a supporter who said Hill was trying to contact him.

"And my response was 'Is she going to endorse me?'" Cain said in an interview Friday on WGDJ-AM Albany, N.Y.

"He said it in a humorous way. I gave back a humorous response. It was in no way intended to be an insult toward Anita Hill or anybody else," Cain said.

Hill famously accused then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment.

Four women have said Cain sexually harassed them when he led the National Restaurant Association more than a decade ago. Two filed complaints. Cain has denied any wrongdoing.

Some Cain backers have compared his treatment to that of Thomas, another high profile black conservative. At his confirmation hearings some 20 years ago, Thomas described the allegations against him as a "high-tech lynching."

In an interview later Friday on Fox News Channel, Cain said he would continue to speak his mind.

"Herman is going to be Herman. That's all I'm going to do. I never mean to offend anybody. It's my natural personality. If I ever get to the point that I have to not be me in order to run, then I'm not running," Cain said on Fox.

"I know how to act the presidential image, if that's what they want — and bore them to death like a lot of other people that speak political speak. No, people have connected with me because it's plain talk."

And he accused the news media of "flyspecking," dissecting his remark and not recognizing humor.

"I saw one news report today 'Well, we don't have a comment from Anita Hill yet.' Why do you need to contact Anita Hill? So what? What is there to comment on?"

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