Cain camp: Perry team "absolutely" behind leak

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, center, is surrounded by security and staff as he walks through a hotel lobby in Alexandria, Va., Nov. 2, 2011, before speaking after meeting with doctors attending the Docs4PatientCare conference.
Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, center, is surrounded by security and staff as he walks through a hotel lobby in Alexandria, Va., Nov. 2, 2011.
AP Photo/Cliff Owen
The Herman Cain campaign is calling on Rick Perry's campaign to apologize for allegedly leaking to Politico the fact that Cain was accused of sexually harassing two women while serving as head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s.

In an appearance on Fox News, Cain chief of staff Mark Block said the campaign was "absolutely" charging the Perry campaign with "stirring this up."

"First, you're charging the Perry campaign with stirring this up," prompted Fox News' Bret Baier.

"Absolutely. And quite frankly, this is one of the actions in America that is the reason people don't get involved in politics. The actions of the Perry campaign are despicable," Block said. "Rick Perry and his campaign owe Herman Cain and his family an apology."

"Both the Rick Perry campaign and Politico did the wrong thing by reporting something that wasn't true from anonymous sources, and like I said, they owe Herman Cain and his family an apology," he added.

When pressed on what evidence the Cain campaign could provide to prove that Perry's campaign was behind the leak, Block pointed to past associations with someone who recently joined the Perry campaign - though he declined to provide a more direct link to his claims.

"In 2003, Herman Cain ran for the Senate," Block said. "He hired a general consultant, Curt Anderson. Mr. Cain divulged the NRA claims at that time to the consultant, Mr. Anderson, so the campaign at that point would be prepared if the issue surfaced. It did not. Approximately two weeks ago, as you know, Mr. Anderson went to work for the Rick Perry campaign. What else happened about two weeks ago? Politico began a smear campaign citing anonymous sources claiming Mr. Cain acted inappropriately."

Anderson, now an adviser to Perry, has denied involvement in leaking the story, telling CBS News/National Journal: "I've known Herman Cain for about 7 years. I was one of several consultants on his Senate race in 2004 and was proud to help him. I'd never heard any of these allegations until I read them in Politico, nor does anything I read in the press change my opinion that Herman is an upstanding man and a gentleman. I have great respect for Herman and his character and I would never speak ill of him, on the record or off the record. That's true today and it's not going to change."

Block called Anderson's denial an "outrage."

"As I said before, Rick Perry needs to apologize to Herman Cain, and quite frankly to America," he added.

Perry communications director Ray Sullivan called the accusations "false" and "patently untrue."

"No one at this campaign was involved in this story," he said.

Block, meanwhile, continues to assert Cain's innocence.

"I asked Mr. Cain directly on numerous occasions, 'Were there anything to any of these allegations?' And he looked me square in the eye and said, 'No.' Mr. Cain has never committed any sexual harassment - period, end of story," Block told Baier. "I would challenge anybody that has these statements to be made to come forward with the person making the statements. Face Mr. Cain."

The all new
CBS News App for Android® for iPad® for iPhone®
Fully redesigned. Featuring CBSN, 24/7 live news. Get the App