After vowing that he was no longer going to address the burgeoning sexual misconduct scandal that has clouded his prospects for the presidency, Herman Cain now appears set to keep talking and talking about it.
“When I made the statement I’m done talking about this, I was talking about the firestorm last week. I wasn’t talking about this new firestorm,” Cain told TV talk show host Jimmy Kimmel on Monday. (Watch video below.)
The “new firestorm” refers to, of course, the explosive allegations by a Chicago-area woman, Sharon Bialek, that Cain groped her in a car 14 years ago while Bialek was in Washington looking for help finding a job. Three other women reportedly have objected to Cain's conduct while he was the head of the National Restaurant Assn in the late 1990s.
Cain gave an interview to Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly Monday, appeared on Kimmel’s program Monday evening, will be interviewed by ABC News on Tuesday and will hold a press conference in Phoenix later in the day.
He started his latest round of interviews after telling supporters in a defiant email that “if the media want to continue talking about nonsense, that’s fine. I’m not going to join them."
But now Cain wants to “set the record straight,” as he told Kimmel. “There’s not an ounce of truth in any of these allegations."
Cain was welcomed by a largely adoring, raucous crowd at the taping of Kimmel’s show in Los Angeles. He addressed Bialek right away, calling her New York press conference with publicity-minded attorney Gloria Allred “a little surprise.”
Cain didn’t mention Bialek by name, but instead labeled her “Woman Number Four.”
“At least it wasn't one of the many that had the first name ‘Anonymous.' So now this one actually had a name and a face,’” he said. “We are taking this head-on.”
Kimmel asked Cain about his reaction to the press conference. “The feelings that you have when you know this is totally fabricated -- you go from anger, then you get disgusted. You try of control yourself to make sure you watch this all the way through it,” he said.
Cain was asked about his wife Gloria, who hasn’t appeared publicly since the first allegations surfaced. Cain said his wife in Atlanta watched the press conference as well, telling him, ‘That doesn’t sound like you.’”
He added that Gloria Cain is a Democrat, “but that doesn’t mean that’s how she votes all the time.”
Kimmel compared Cain to Tiger Woods and suggested that he won't be able to avoid talking about the matter. Cain agreed and said if further allegations surface, he will address them. “I will talk about any and all future firestorms. I’m in it to win it and I’m not going to be discouraged,” he said.
He remained bullish on his presidential prospects. “People believe in Herman Cain and his message,” he said. “The voice of the people is stronger than the voice of the media.”
Kimmel moved on, asking Cain about his celebrated ‘9-9-9’ tax plan and whether he has ever smoked marijuana.
“I have never smoked pot,” the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO replied.
“Even as the owner of a pizza chain," Kimmel said, "you never thought, ‘I have to get to the bottom of what my customer base is really thinking?’”