Cain campaign’s not-so-subtle threats

I can’t say with any confidence whether the sexual-harassment allegations surrounding Herman Cain are true. The accusations seem credible, and the fact that the Republican presidential candidate has repeatedly contradicted himself and changed his story doesn’t inspire confidence, but the claims have not yet been fully proven.

With that in mind, it stands to reason that Cain and his campaign would defend itself and urge voters to believe the candidate’s version of events. What Team Cain is doing, however, goes well beyond a standard defense, and enters the realm of intimidation and retaliatory tactics.

L. Lin Wood, the lawyer hired by the Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain to fend off sexual harassment accusations, has warned that any other women who might be considering coming forward with similar allegations “should think twice.”

On Wednesday morning, less than 24 hours after Karen Kraushaar identified herself as one of two women who had received monetary settlements relating to harassment allegations against Mr. Cain while working for the National Restaurant Association in the late 1990s, Ms. Kraushaar faced questions about a workplace complaint she filed at a subsequent job, at the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Hours later, Rush Limbaugh seized on that report to argue that Ms. Kraushaar has “a pattern of whining.”

And when another accuser, Sharon Bialek — whose last name Mr. Limbaugh has pronounced as “buy-a-lick” — appeared Wednesday on MSNBC, she faced fresh inquiries about her troubled financial history, which had been documented and publicized by Mr. Cain’s campaign under the heading, “Who Is Sharon Bialek?”

Think twice“? This isn’t exactly subtle — Cain’s camp is trying to intimidate would-be accusers from coming forward. What if they have legitimate claims of misconduct against Cain? That apparently doesn’t matter; the GOP campaign is prepared to destroy accusers anyway.

And in case this wasn’t quite aggressive enough, now there’s also

Herman Cain has made clear his position on the accusers who say he sexually harassed them — or worse — while CEO of the National Restaurant Associations: they’re liars.

Now the campaign has an entire website dedicated to driving that message home, CainTruth.Com. The hastily-put-together blog appears to be primarily dedicated to spreading damaging stories about the women who have come forward….

Is it any wonder victims of sexual harassment are often reluctant to come forward?

Putting that aside, I can think of other presidential candidates who’ve been accused of wrongdoing, but when it comes to public campaigns to destroy accusers, Cain appears to be breaking new ground.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation