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'Princess Nancy' + sex-harassment claims = Herman Cain's looming women problem

Accused by multiple women of sex-harassment, Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain headed into tonight's debate under intense scrutiny -- especially from women, who are more likely to be victims of harassment and therefore more sensitive to the issue. The subject is literally and politically touchy on so many levels.

When he was asked about the charges, the Republican crowd booed -- the debate moderator, Maria Bartiromo, that is, not Cain's alleged behavior or his denials of wrongdoing. When the moderators moved on, the crowd cheered. And Cain continued to wow the crowds and rack up the accolades on Twitter.

Then he said it: "Princess Nancy," a comment directed at former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Not "Queen Nancy." But "Princess Nancy."

There's something about the dismissiveness of it that seemed to strike women the wrong way. Consider the instant Twitter reaction of Dana Perino, the former spokeswoman for George W. Bush and a conservative in good standing: "Ay yi yi, former Speaker Pelosi called a princess in the debate? Not fair. We may disagree on policy, but she earned the Speaker title."

But just as he hard-charged and pushed back against his accusers, Cain's campaign doubled down on Twitter with this: "The answer to Health Care: HR3000, the bill killed by "Princess Nancy" in committee #tcot #cnbcdebate."

The comments, like the sex-harassment charges, won't necessarily be fatal in a partisan primary campaign. But in a general election, where the female vote looms large, this kind of talk is far more toxic. And that makes it tougher to win the electability argument in the primary, even though the race is supposed to be all about jobs.

**Update: A poll released Thursday indicates Cain has a woman-voter problem

Sure, the phrase 'Princess Nancy' is just two words. But little phrases can take on big meaning. Remember John McCain saying in 2008 that "the fundamentals of the economy are still strong." That helped sink him.

 "GOP candidates can talk economic policy until they are blue in the face," tweeted conservative Amanda Carpenter, "but that princess comment is going to dominate the talk tomorrow."

 Then Rick Perry fell apart and became the talk of the debate. So Cain will get more of a pass, thanks to the candidate he blamed for leaking some of the sex-harassment claims in the first place. But don't expect this to die as an issue, especially now that some of his accusers are planning on a joint press conference that will keep the story alive. 

After the debate, Mother Jones reports, Cain walked back his "Princess Nancy" remark saying, "That is a statement I probably should not have made." His campaign however, was proud enough of the line that they repeated it on his official Twitter feed.

Comments

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Shell

What has Cain earned, jail time?

Amaranthe

I think that he should drop out, along with Perry.

Jay

I have interacted with hundreds of women in my professional life. Somehow I have managed to conduct myself in such a way that not one has ever accused me of harassment. I have also managed to have never placed myself in situations where such accusations would be considered plausible or credible; let alone be sufficient to necessitate the issuance of a five-figure check and a non-disclosure statement prior to a woman quitting (or being forced to quit) after my interaction with her.

This happened not once, but at least twice with Herman Cain - in the same organization he led.

If my employer had to ask two other employees to leave because of issues related to my conduct (alleged or otherwise), and felt that whatever happened merited paying the departing employees five figures each; I would be fired, and I would not soon find employment anywhere in my entire industry.

Why does Cain expect as a pass, when none of us would ever get one in a similar circumstance?

Cynical Idealist

Jay, it's related to a/the republican's sense of entitlement' "I got mine, screw you." (irony intended)

Dave

What really smells about this whole deal is that Cain has been in a position of power in many different organizations for many years. How is it that the only claimants worked for the same organization at the same time during a period of time when just winking at someone created a hostile work environment?
Where are all the victims from Pillsbury and Godfathers? If he is a predictor that would be a long standing character flaw, not one that would only manifest itself for a 2-3 year period. There is more to this than Cain detractors wish to examine.

larkforsure


[ Begging for helps ] Complaint about Human Rights Violations by IBM China on Centennial

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IBM detained mother of ex-employee on the day of centennial
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Peru

The lovely ms Bialek better make sure her attorney is with her at all times or she may go off script and lose all credibility. Ms K? Looks like she may use the harassment claim as a workplace tool. AP story says she is no stranger to filing the charge when something does not quite suit her. As far as princess nancy, a much nicer title than what she has earned.

Marsha Matthews

Jay,

Excellent post - kudos. Alleged or not, any credible organization would deem the same allegations by several individuals levied against one individual as being grounds for immediate dismissal.

Five individuals each describe similar scenarios; one individual claims said scenarios are lies ... logic dictates that the majority rules ...

Maxwell Williams

Maybe Marc Caputo would like to give equal time to the other alleged sex scandal?

"Barack Obama accused by two men of inappropriate behavior"
November 3, 2011

"The men complained of sexually suggestive behavior by Obama that made them angry and uncomfortable, the sources said, and they signed agreements with the university that gave them financial payouts to leave the journal. The agreements also included language that bars the men from talking about their departures."

"White House spokesman Jay Carney told THE KANSAS CITIAN the president indicated to White House staff that he was "vaguely familiar" with the charges and that the university's general counsel had resolved the matter."

http://thekansascitian.blogspot.com/2011/11/barack-obama-accused-by-two-men-of.html

Dave

Marsha, you are mistaken. Wrongful dismissal is just as serious to the bottom line of a business than "allegations" of harassment. Especially if it it a minority. With the right motivations I can get 5 complete strangers to swear to just about anything, these people weren't strangers they all were at the same place and in our world until you are proven guilty, and that doesn't include he said she, she, she, she, said you are innocent.

Boris

2 hours of debate and this is what you choose to focus on?

I submit to you the results of an independent investigation commissioned by the CBS TV affiliate in Atlanta, GA. They hired a private investigator who used a $15,000 software package that is used by law enforcement to help them determine if suspects are lying or telling the truth. This software is deemed to have an accuracy rate of 95%, versus polygraph which is said to have a 50% accuracy rate. The determination of this independent private investigator? No question. Cain is telling the truth and Sharon Bialek is LYING!

See the CBS Atlanta news report here: http://youtu.be/sU50iI4jSeE.

Marsha Matthews

Dave,

I see your point but I disagree. When it comes to sexual harassment, repeat offenders are given that much more scrutiny than if it is/was a one-time offense, particularly if not only each subsequent instances mirror one another, but that settlements were reached in each of the prior offenses. One is bad enough but to have two or more? No - it makes it that much harder on the accused than the accusers.

But, I think you nailed it in terms of who is involved, ie: a minority. Cain strikes me as just the type who would completely ignore his own behavior in order to file suit claiming wrongful termination based on racism.

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