Presidential hopeful Herman Cain denied all sexual harassment accusations in a press conference Tuesday, claiming he didn't know Sharon Bialek, the first woman to go public with her allegations. NBC's Lisa Myers has more.
Herman Cain steadfastly denied having engaged in sexual harassment against Karen Kraushaar, Sharon Bialek, or other women who have anonymously accused him of inappropriate behavior during his time as the head of the National Restaurant Association.
Cain lashed out at the "Democrat machine" for trying, he said, to knock his campaign for the presidency off-track.
The Republican again denied having ever known Bialek, the woman who went public on Monday alongside attorney Gloria Allred to accuse him of an unwanted sexual advance during the 1990s. And Cain dismissed Kraushaar, whom he acknowledged as a recipient of a settlement from the restaurant group, as having leveled "baseless" allegations against him. Kraushaar, now a Treasury Department employee, identified herself on Tuesday.
"The fact is, these anonymous accusations are false, and now the Democratic machine in America has brought forth a troubled woman to make false accusations," he said.
Cain said that he had "never acted inappropriately" with any woman, repeating a denial he's made since a Politico story about two anonymous accusers was first published on Oct. 30.
The press availability was Cain's first, though, since the allegations first emerged. He's done a select number of one-on-one interviews, but has mostly avoided a full press conference.
As Cain spoke nearly a dozen staff members stood looking on to his left, including his chief of staff Mark Block. Block took to the airwaves last week to defend Cain and blamed Rick Perry's presidential campaign for leaking the accusers stories to news outlets.
Since the story first broke more than a week ago, the Cain campaign has blamed the media, the Perry campaign, and now Democrats. In a press release today, the Cain campaign cited six civil lawsuits Sharon Bialek has been involved in.
And at the availability Tuesday afternoon in Arizona, Cain sought to put the issue behind him, even going so far as to say he would be willing to submit himself to a lie detector test if it were deemed necessary. "But I'm not going to do that unless I have a good reason to do that,” he added.
Cain said specifically that he had never met Bialek, let alone subjected her to harassment. He admitted later in the press conference, however, that it was possible he had forgotten her in the intervening years, a chance he called "remote."
He acknowledged Kraushaar, one of the anonymous women whose identity NBC News has confirmed, as one of the recipients of a settlement.
"To the best of my recollection, since you mentioned that particular name, that is the one that I recall that filed a complaint that was found to be baseless," he said.
Cain said that he didn't know how much Kraushaar received or the specifics of the settlement. He said the original complaint was related to an anecdote he's recounted over the past week, in which he compared Kraushaar's height to that of his wife, Gloria.
In terms of blame for the entire imbroglio, Cain suggested that Democrats were at fault, though he said he had no concrete evidence to identify any culprit.
"I happen to think where it's coming from is that some people don't want to see Herman Cain to get the Republican nomination, and some people don't want Herman Cain to become the president of the United States of America," he said.
Cain stopped short of blaming a "conspiracy" for the emergence of the allegations, but said he expected more to come forth, to all of which, Cain said, he would respond.
"I have said this before: There will probably be others: Not because I'm aware of any, but because the machine to keep a businessman out of the White House is going to be relentless," Cain said. "And if they continue to come, I will continue to reply."
Cain has come under increased scrutiny from some fellow Republicans since Bialek came forward in a Monday press conference.
"These are serious allegations, and they’re going to have to be addressed seriously," said former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who's battling it out with Cain for the top spot in primary polls, in an interview with ABC News/Yahoo. "Any time there is an accuser that comes forward with charges of this nature you recognize this is a very serious matter and it should be taken seriously."
Today's press conference was announced late last night, and came a day before a presidential debate.
Update: Politico reports that one of the unnamed accusers featured in their initial reporting last week is seeking a joint public appearance with the two other women, whose identities have not been made public. Read that report here.
Watch the entire news conference here.
NBC's Andrew Rafferty contributed to this post, which was updated at 8:54 p.m.