(Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)
The Huffington Post founder on Sunday played down Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain’s rise in polls, comparing him to a 6-year-old child from Colorado who received worldwide publicity due to an incident that turned out to be a hoax.
“Herman Cain is the latest balloon boy, everybody’s obsessed with it,” Arianna Huffington said on ABC’s “This Week With Christiane Amanpour,” where she discussed how the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO’s sexual harassment allegations will affect his run for president.
Huffington was referring to the media attention Can was getting after at least three women recently accused him of sexually harassing them when he was the president of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s.
The “balloon boy” became infamous in October 2009 when the parents of 6-year-old Falcon claimed their son was inside a gas balloon resembling a silver flying saucer that they allowed to float away into the atmosphere.
“I think this is more of a problem with our media culture,” she said. “If you really ask commentators off the air whether they really think it’s probable that Herman Cain even before these allegations would be president ... they would tell you, ‘no,’ so why are we obsessing about it?”
Cain insists that he was wrongfully accused, and that the media was covering it “unethically.” He told reporters he will not discuss the accusations.
At a news conference in Texas on Saturday, Cain cut off a Washington Post reporter when he was asking a question about sexual harassment claims. “Don’t even go there,” Cain snapped, the newspaper reported. “Can I ask my question?” the reporter asked. “No,” Cain replied, as a debate organizer shouted: “No gossip!”
“Where’s my chief of staff?” Cain asked, signaling for campaign manager Mark Block, who was standing in the back of the room. “Please send him the journalistic code of ethics,” Cain instructed Block, and left a few minutes later.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll released Sunday found the percentage of Republicans who view former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Cain favorably dropped from 66 percent a week ago to 57 percent. His favorability declined also among all registered voters, from 37 percent to 32 percent. More than half of all respondents said they believed the allegations were true. However, only 39 percent Republicans thought they were accurate.
When the discussion turned to former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman’s jibes at former Mss. Gov. Mitt Romney, Huffington told ABC she believed Huntsman could turn out to be a viable choice for the GOP presidential nomination although he had had poor showing in polls. “As all the front-runners are imploding one after the other ... Jon Huntsman may be the last man standing,” she said.