TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Coming off what he described as a good night at the ninth Republican presidential debate, Herman Cain used his -- so far -- unwavering base support to show Michigan voters that his campaign has moved past the sexual harassment allegations that have plagued his candidacy for almost two weeks.
“Over the last couple of weeks, I've been through hell,” Cain told a standing-room-only crowd in Kalamazoo, Mich. “Now, here's the good news: it didn't kill me or slow us down one bit. You wanna know why? The reason is because the reaction from supporters has been overwhelming."
The candid remark was the first acknowledgement Cain has made on the trail that the allegations of inappropriate behavior toward women have taken a personal toll on him.
As the former head of the head of the National Restaurant Association stumped throughout Michigan, his campaign blasted out e-mails touting the more than $9 million raised since Oct. 1 and a Quinnipiac poll showing Cain leading in three swing states.
And the day after CNBC debate moderators were booed for asking the candidate about the harassment charges, the attorney for one of the women who filed a complaint against Cain said the four accusers would not hold a joint press conference, because some of them wish to remain private.
“I haven’t looked back on this,” Cain said here at his last of four events of the day. “I have absolutely no regrets for this journey I’m on right now. Not a one.”
But, The Associated Press reports that private polling shows the former Godfather's Pizza CEO's popularity slipping since The Des Moines Register released a poll showing Cain sharing the lead with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA). And a CBS poll out today shows Cain still in the lead but with just 18%, a seven-point drop from late October. On a day when signs began to form that the campaign was shifting focus away from the controversy, Cain again needed to apologize for his words.
Shortly after last night’s debate, Cain said he regretted referring to the current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as “Princess Nancy.”
During a stop at a diner in Ypsilanti, Mich., Cain apologized for the comments. But when pressed by reporters why he was apologizing, he said, "So you all could stop asking me about it, OK?"
But that was not the only comment that made news yesterday. According to news reports, in Kalamazoo, Cain jokingly asked if Anita Hill, the woman who in the 1990s accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment, would vote for him. And in Ypsilanti told a table of diners, "How do you beat Obama? Beat him with a Cain!”
Still, Cain remained defiant that the criticism of him stems from being a political outsider.
“The reason I’m being attacked," he contended, "is because I’m not a part of the political class."