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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Did the Perry Campaign Launch the Cain Story?

Did the Cain harassment story originate with the Perry camp? Cain thinks so. Richard Miniter writes at Forbes:

Was the recent attack on Herman Cain’s presidential campaign a professional hit job? Absolutely, says Herman Cain. And he says he knows just where to look for the guy who did it: At 815 Slaters Lane in Alexandria, Virginia, a low-slung former warehouse in the shadow of a coal plant.

There, beside rusting rail lines, is the home of OnMessage Inc., a Republican-leaning consulting firm recently hired to bolster Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s presidential campaign.

One of the firm’s partners, Curt Anderson, worked on Cain’s losing 2004 U.S. Senate campaign. Cain thinks he’s the hired political gun who leaked details to Politico, a Washington trade publication, of alleged “sexually suggestive behavior” Cain is said to have exhibited towards two women while he ran the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s. That story set off a media frenzy which has quickly put Cain’s campaign on the defense.

In the summer of 2003, Cain recalls briefing Anderson—his general campaign consultant at the time—that sexual harassment claims were brought against him while he was chairman of the National Restaurant Association from 1996 to 1999.

Cain's top guy reinforces the point. RealClearPolitics quotes a Fox interview:
Bret Baier, FOX News: "You're charging the Perry campaign with stirring this up?"

Mark Block, Cain Chief of Staff: "Absolutely and quite frankly, this is one of the actions in America that is the reason people don't get involved in politics, right. The actions of the Perry campaign are despicable. 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, to anonymous sources in, like I said, they owe Herman Cain and his family an apology
Cain's accusation calls to mind stories about Obama adviser David Axelrod. In 2007, Ben Wallace-Wells profiled Axelrod for The New York Times:
As the 2004 Senate primary neared, it was clear that it was a contest between two people: the millionaire liberal, [Blair] Hull, who was leading in the polls, and Obama, who had built an impressive grass-roots campaign. About a month before the vote, The Chicago Tribune revealed, near the bottom of a long profile of Hull, that during a divorce proceeding, Hull's second wife filed for an order of protection. In the following few days, the matter erupted into a full-fledged scandal that ended up destroying the Hull campaign and handing Obama an easy primary victory. The Tribune reporter who wrote the original piece later acknowledged in print that the Obama camp had ''worked aggressively behind the scenes'' to push the story. But there are those in Chicago who believe that Axelrod had an even more significant role -- that he leaked the initial story. They note that before signing on with Obama, Axelrod interviewed with Hull. They also point out that Obama's TV ad campaign started at almost the same time. Axelrod swears up and down that ''we had nothing to do with it'' and that the campaign's television ad schedule was long planned. ''An aura grows up around you, and people assume everything emanates from you,'' he told me.