(WASHINGTON) -- If there’s one thing everyone across the political spectrum seems to agree on, it’s that it's been a crazy week for Herman Cain since Politico broke the story about accusations of sexual harassment by three women during Cain’s time at the National Restaurant Association.
There was a lot less agreement, however, on what the allegations mean and how much they matter. So far, the story doesn’t seem to have hurt Cain’s poll numbers. He’s still tied with Mitt Romney at the head of the pack of potential Republican candidates.
Cain has denied the allegations, maintaining that he has never sexually harassed anyone. But the way he handled the denials has some scratching their heads about how he could have been unprepared for the story to come out.
He initially denied knowledge of a cash settlement for one of the women, but a few hours later, stated that “there was a financial settlement, and it was somewhere in the vicinity of three to six months’ severance pay.” It was later revealed that at least one of the women got a year’s salary -- $35,000 -- as a settlement.
Despite the discussion, some just didn’t want to talk about the allegations at all. On ABC’s This Week with Christiane Amanpour, House Speaker John Boehner gave his take on the matter: “I think he and his opponents will have a nice debate about this. I’m not going there.”
All of the women involved in the cases are still anonymous, and one of them has stated through a lawyer that she doesn’t plan to come forward publicly, something several people said actually helps Cain.
“I’m not going to brush off the anonymity point because I think that’s central to this. We don’t know exactly what he’s allegedly done,” Gary Bauer, president of American Values told Candy Crowley on CNN’s State of the Union. “And we don’t have the names of any accusers, so I’m not surprised at all that it hasn’t moved his support and it certainly hasn’t changed my opinion of him.”
Others argue that the fact that there are any allegations at all -- even anonymous ones -- is a red flag that should raise more questions.
“I don’t have all the facts on this case, but sexual harassment is serious. We have to protect women in the workplace,” former Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “I think Mr. Cain has to answer these questions.”
Still others say the accusations are just a distraction from more important policy issues, like jobs and taxes.
“The allegations against his program, his liking the Federal Reserve and his national sales tax -- yes, they are very legitimate,” Rep. Ron Paul said on FOX News Sunday. “Those other allegations, these problems that he had -- no … I think the media blew this way out of proportion. I think there are a thousand stories out there, and I think that dilutes the real debates.”
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