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2012: Conservatives rally around Cain

“Reinforcing the picture of a closely divided public, registered voters again split nearly evenly when asked which party they specifically intend to support in the congressional election in their district: 43 percent picked Republicans, and 42 percent chose Democrats,” National Journal’s Ron Brownstein writes of a new United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection poll.

CAIN: “Conservatives rallied around Herman Cain as he battles sexual harassment allegations, likening the attacks on the Republican presidential contender to what they describe as the ‘high-tech lynching’ of another prominent black Republican: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas,” the AP writes.

“Iowa conservatives appear unready to jump off the Herman Cain train — unless damning evidence emerges that proves the presidential candidate was less than truthful Monday when he denied allegations of sexual harassment,” the Des Moines Register’s Jacobs reports. “The Des Moines Register spoke by phone with more than 20 likely Republican caucusgoers who participated in the Oct. 23-26 Iowa Poll, and none said the allegations had moved them to reject Cain as a potential pick.”

The New York Times: “Herman Cain, a surprise leader in the Republican race for the presidency, acknowledged Monday that he was accused of sexual harassment while chief of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, but he denied wrongdoing in an episode that has consumed his rising candidacy.”

More: “In separate interviews, two people who were affiliated with the restaurant group at the time said that they knew of the second female employee, and that she had received a payment related to harassment accusations against Mr. Cain during his 1996-99 tenure as the association’s chief executive. The two spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid being pulled into the matter publicly.”

“The Washington Post independently obtained the names of the women and tried to contact both, but several e-mails and telephone messages were not returned. A man who answered the door at the Maryland home of one of the women said they had “nothing to say.”

The New York Post: “Cain feeling heat.”

The New York Daily News notes that Cain changed his story from the morning to the afternoon, when in a taped appearance on FOX. He initially said he was “unaware” of any financial payout, then admitted there was one. "Maybe three months' salary,” Cain said of the settlement. “I don't remember. It might have been two months. I do remember my general counsel saying we didn't pay all of the money they demanded.”

The paper writes, “The allegations lodged against Cain, and his hamfisted response to the revelations, threaten to derail his soaring poll numbers.” He also says he’s “unaware” once again of a formal complaint filed by a second woman.

NBC has confirmed that two women accused Cain of inappropriate sexual conduct and at least one received a financial settlement. Here’s NBC’s Lisa Myers’ piece on it from Nightly News.

Here’s an odd exchange with Cain on FOX with Greta Van Sustern, per GOP 12:

VAN SUSTEREN: Got a roaming eye at all?
CAIN: A roaming eye?
CAIN: I enjoy flowers, like everybody else.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know what I mean.
CAIN: No. No, not at all.
VAN SUSTEREN: Not at all.
CAIN: Well, I wouldn't say not at all. Depends upon what you mean and
(INAUDIBLE) to what you mean.

And Cain made this allegation: “I do recall that her performance, it had been told to me by her boss, was not up to par.”

“Cain told The Hill on Monday that the controversy swirling around him was comparable to what happened to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who was accused of sexual harassment by a former law clerk, Anita Hill, during his confirmation hearings. ‘There seems to be some similarities. ... Probably so,’ said Cain, who earlier this year predicted that like Thomas, he would be subjected to a ‘high-tech lynching’ by liberals opposed to his campaign. ‘The only question would be, how long are people going to drag this baseless, false accusation out? I can’t determine that,’ Cain said Monday.”

Roll Call writes, “As Herman Cain's presidential campaign spent Monday dealing with the fallout from sexual harassment allegations, it became increasingly clear that his handling of the controversy could put him in greater jeopardy than the actual decade-old charges.”

Cain found time to go on Iowa radio in the afternoon. Of the sex allegations, Cain said, “The Cain train is staying on track and we’re making sure that we don’t allow these distractions from former employees or opponents to really get us off message.”

Unrelated to the sexual harassment news, Cain also said on the radio show he’d consider making Newt Gingrich his VP.

PERRY: A pro-Perry Super PAC is going up with two ads in Iowa and South Carolina.

ROMNEY: PoliticalWire notes, “Jon Stewart looks at sexual harassment accusations against Herman Cain and Rick Perry's loopy speech in New Hampshire and concludes, ‘Mitt Romney is the luckiest Motherfudger on Earth.’”

A Romney fundraiser is also an official in a controversial New Hampshire hydroelectric transmission line. “The project has resulted in fierce opposition across the state, from members of the state’s congressional delegation to state legislators to grassroots activists,” the Boston Globe writes, adding, “The opposition led Northern Pass to back away from its preferred route for the transmission line, but it has not yet suggested a new path. Recent negotiations between landowners and Northern Pass, which is said to have threatened to seize land using eminent domain, has inflamed the opposition.”