Fourth woman claims Herman Cain harassment

 

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Another woman has accused Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain of sexual harassment.

Lawyer Gloria Allred, who specialises in discrimination, and the woman are planning a news conference in New York.

The woman would be at least the fourth to accuse Mr Cain, a former businessman, of harassment.

The Politico website began the claims with reports that two women made official complaints and a third one emerged to say she too had been a victim, but took no further action.

The women have said that Mr Cain behaved inappropriately toward them during their time at the National Restaurant Association in the late 1990s.

Mr Cain has denied the allegations, and he said on Saturday he would answer no more questions on the subject.

While most of his fellow Republican hopefuls must be silently enjoying the bubbling and highly public scandal surrounding Mr Cain, a political novice who has shot to the top of the field, they probably are not happy that the focus on his candidacy has drawn attention from them.

And it is occurring less than two months before the first votes are cast in the process to nominate a challenger to President Barack Obama in 2012.

Even fellow front-runner Mitt Romney, favourite of the Republican establishment, had trouble generating much attention when he gave a significant Washington speech on Friday about cutting government spending and overhauling Medicare, the government health insurance program for Americans of retirement age - both key issues for the party's candidates.

While Cain initially blamed Texas Governor Rick Perry's campaign for leaking the sexual harassment allegations and significant payouts to the women who lodged them, he has since backed off that charge, choosing instead to attack the news media for paying too much attention to charges he has denied.

But key Republicans have said that it was time for Mr Cain to say more - to get the facts out.

For any of the Republican challengers to make a come-from-behind dash with so little time remaining before the state nominating primary votes and caucuses - which being in earnest in January - they must be able to be heard above the din of the Cain scandal. But to this point neither his anonymous women accusers nor the candidate appear ready to add talk more.

The three earlier accusers apparently fear damage to their reputations and careers. Mr Cain seemingly believes that his silence going forward will cause the allegations to fade from relevance.

So far polls indicated the scandal has not cut into his support, which has him neck-and-neck with Mr Romney at the top of the Republican heap, and the candidate has been hauling in donations that far out strip his fundraising before the allegations became public.

Mr Perry, once seen as the best hope of the conservative tea party wing of the Republicans, has disappeared from news reports with the exception of a video of a bizarre appearance in the state of New Hampshire, raising questions about his sobriety at the event.

Mr Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and the candidate with the biggest campaign bankroll, continues to cruise along, staying away from reporters and apparently comfortable with his level of support - banking on challengers to self-destruct along the way.

AP

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