Herman Cain, Rick Perry teams spar over who leaked harassment story

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain gestures as he speaks at the Congressional Health Caucus Thought Leaders Series, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
Herman Cain
Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain gestures as he speaks at the Congressional Health Caucus Thought Leaders Series, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Rick Perry adviser Curt Anderson denies that he ever leaked information about the 1990s era sexual harassment charges against Herman Cain, as the Cain camp has charged. Instead, Anderson said on CNN Thursday morning, the Cain campaign is using him as a "pawn."

"I didn't know anything about this," said Anderson, who served as a consultant to Cain's unsuccessful 2004 Senate campaign and is now an adviser to Cain's GOP presidential rival.

"I'm disappointed he tried to use me as a pawn to get out of the mess he's in," Anderson continued, adding that he still considers Cain a "great presidential candidate."

Anderson's remarks are part of the latest round of accusations to fly between the Cain and Perry camps as details surrounding the harassment charges slowly come out. As Cain's accusers continue to keep mum, Cain maintains his supporters have no reason to lose faith in him, and he's rallied allies like the Tea Party and Ginni Thomas -- the wife of Clarence Thomas, the conservative Supreme Court judge was hit with surprise allegations about sexual harassment in the middle of his confirmation hearings -- to help him tell his side of the story.

In an interview with Forbes yesterday, Cain said he told Anderson about the sexual harassment charges in confidence during his Senate campaign, and Cain's chief of staff Mark Block said Anderson and the Perry campaign owe Cain an apology.

The Perry campaign said it's "patently untrue" that to suggest they were involved in tipping off reporters to the story.

"Our campaign had absolutely nothing to do with it," Perry told the conservative blog RedState.com on Wednesday. "You know I'm disappointed that there's finger pointing going on, and the sooner we get back to talking about the issues that are important to the people of this country the better, and that's how we get Americans working again."

He added, "There's not anybody in my campaign who knew anything about this."

Anderson suggested that Cain is pinning him with the leak because Cain is "in a tough spot."

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"Candidates, when they get into a firestorm like this, have sometimes come unraveled," he said. "It seems to me they're kind of grasping at straws... trying to figure out how to get out of this... It's a lot of stress."

Anderson said that Cain has "obviously" not handled the fallout over the charges well, but he maintained that Cain is a good candidate and suggested his campaign could overcome this hurdle. "If he can get himself back into gear, he can recover," he said.

He declined to say whether he thought Cain's campaign could survive if the sexual harassment charges were true, but he said, "I think you're innocent until proven guilty."

Cain, in an interview with the Daily Caller, lamented that the "D.C. culture" is "guilty until proven innocent."

However, he said his campaign is surviving because "the voice of the people is more powerful than the voice of the media, message is more powerful than money... [and] the specific solutions I'm offering are bold and compelling, and people like that."

The Daily Caller interview was conducted by Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Some conservatives have drawn parallels between the allegations against the two African-American conservatives, decrying the charges in both cases as a "high-tech lynching." CBS News political analyst John Dickerson makes the case that the two scenarios are not exactly analogous.

Meanwhile, in a tele-town hall Wednesday night, Cain said, " We' ve been able to trace [the leak] back to the Perry campaign that stirred this up in order to discredit me, my campaign, and slow us down."

The town hall was hosted by Sam "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher, conservative talk show host Rusty Humphries, and TheTeaParty.net.

A Cain supporter who called in to the town hall asked Cain what she could do to help his campaign, to which he replied, "Whenever one of these stories come up, look for the facts and help spread the truth... You can always call my campaign office, they will clarify anything out there."

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