Cain "trying to think back" on harassment claims

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 31: Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain delivers remarks at The National Press Club October 31, 2011 in Washington, DC. Cain has denied accusations made in a report of sexual harassment while he was president of the National Restaurant Association. Cain is tied with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney at the top of the Des Moines Register's recent survey of likely caucus-goers in Iowa. Win McNamee/Getty Images

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain continued to deny allegations of sexual harassment in a series of interviews Monday but offered more details on the incidents that he believes triggered the complaints and a resulting settlement deal that he earlier said was inked without his knowledge.

"As I have been beat upon all day on this, I'm trying to think back to, well what could it have been?" Cain told reporters outside PBS Newshour studios in Shirlington, Va.. after a day of responding to a report, which first surfaced in Politico, that he has sexually harassed two female subordinates at the National Restaurant Association. Cain, a former pizza company executive, headed the trade association from 1996-99. The two women later left the association after reaching undisclosed financial settlements.

Cain said he only recalls innocuously commenting about the height of one of the women who complained about inappropriate behavior.

"And then I did recall one mention in the formal complaint that my general counsel shared, and that was, one day I was gesturing standing near this lady that she was as tall as my wife," he said, gesturing to his own chin. "Five feet tall. Because my wife comes up to my chin, and I was gesturing to this lady, standing next to her, almost shoulder to shoulder, saying you're about the same height as my wife. That was mentioned in the allegation, to my surprise. And so that was the only thing I could recollect that was mentioned as one of the possible things."

At left: Cain yells "no!" on Monday when reporters asked if he'd ever engaged in sexual misconduct with anyone at the National Restaurant Association.

Once a formal charge had been launched, Cain said he directed his general counsel and the head of the human resources department to investigate.

"They then went and reviewed the formal charge, worked on the situation for several months, and came back and said, it's baseless. No facts, baseless," Cain said.

He added he did not recall the amount of the financial settlement, only that it was not large enough to warrant coming to his desk.

"It started out where she wanted a lot of money. I don't even remember what that amount was. But because it was baseless and it was shown that it was not true, she ended up leaving with several months severance, which would have been what she would have left with if we had involuntarily dismissed her," he said. "I don't know if it was three months, whether it was two months, it might have been six months. I don't think it was because of the way it was settled."

At the National Press Club earlier in the day, Cain said he knew nothing about a financial deal with the women. "I am unaware of any settlement," he said. "I hope it wasn't for much, because I didn't do anything."

In the interview with Newshour when Cain was asked if there was any behavior on his part that might have been considered inappropriate, he answered: "In my opinion, no. But, as you would imagine, it's in the eye of the person who thinks that maybe I crossed the line. I worked for the Department of the Navy, the Coca-Cola company, Pillsbury, Burger King, Godfather's Pizza. Years and years and years of working in the business environment working around men, women, all types of people - never, never accused of any sort of sexual harassment. I have never sexually harassed anyone. And, so, this false allegation to now come up is kind of baffling."

 

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