GOP Presidential Candidate Herman Cain was riding high in the polls this time last month. But after the recent allegations of sexual harassment bubbled up, Cain’s beginning to see a slip in poll numbers. What has yet to be determined though is how much the sexual harassment allegations will affect conservative women’s support for Cain.
Cain’s rise in support was largely welcomed by conservatives who are eager to find an alternative to candidate Mitt Romney, who is seen as being liberal on social issues. However, in the past two weeks four women have come forward saying that Cain sexually harassed them in the 1990s during his tenure as CEO of the National Restaurant Association. So far, Cain has failed to provide detailed facts regarding the allegations, simply calling the charges “bogus.”
When the allegations first appeared, there seemed to be a divide between conservative women regarding the veracity of the claims: one side thought the accusations were a liberal hit piece and the other expressed sympathy to the women who came forward but never actually condemned Cain.
Perhaps the most vocal conservative woman on the first side is political pundit Ann Coulter. She referred to the charges against Cain as a “high-tech lynching,” a phrase made popular during Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearings. Thomas, like Cain, is a black conservative, and his reputation was tainted by allegations of sexual misconduct which later turned out to be false.
Conservative radio host Laura Ingraham perhaps went a step further saying, the accusers against Cain were greedy. She questioned why the women did not want to be named.
“We have seen this movie before and we know how it ends. It always ends up being an employee who can’t perform or who under-performs and is looking for a little green,” she said, according to the Daily Caller, adding, “How much money did it take for you to swallow your principles? ‘Oh, I was so offended.’ So in other words, you lose the fact that you’re offended if you’re paid money? Does anyone understand that? If something was truly horrible, then why wouldn’t you just stand up, ‘I want to be known, my name – I want my name to be out there.’”
Now, as the allegations drag on and a fourth accuser, Sharon Bialek, publicly announced her allegations against the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza on Monday, more conservative women seem to be moving from the first side over to the second.
Penny Nance, president and CEO of Concerned Women for America, emailed The Christian Post saying that she found Bialek’s accusations “shocking.”
“Hearing that there is a growing number of women who have accused Mr. Cain of inappropriate behavior gives me pause.”
Nance is calling on Cain to address the allegations head on.
“Ms. Bialek appeared credible and I was very disturbed by her characterization of what happened. Whoever Republican primary voters choose as president should be a man or woman of good moral character. We said when Bill Clinton was president that character counts and we still believe that."
Jennifer DeJournett, president of Voices of Conservative Women, is concerned about how the media’s portrayal of the female accusers affects women who have been sexually harassed.
“I do not enjoy the media’s attacks on women who publicly come out challenging their alleged harassers. We can have a healthy skepticism on things without undermining someone’s character,” DeJournett told The Christian Post.
She noted that there is no need to bring up Bialek’s financial past in light of these allegations. After Bialek made her public announcement condemning Cain, many media outlets pointed out that Bialek has been in financial trouble recently and currently does not hold a job.
“There’s no need to bring up the fact that the woman is struggling financially or does not have a job. A lot of people don’t have jobs in this economy. Cain’s accuser may be embellishing the story. We don’t know. But brining up her financial circumstances is unfair. That’s not relevant,” said DeJournett.
“Many women don’t report [sexual harassment] because they are afraid they are going to get attacked. [The media is playing] into the fear that women have in general if they have been a victim, and that is, that the moment you say something your character is going to be maligned.”
The Cain campaign itself is helping to bring Bialek’s past to light in an effort to bring about skepticism of her accusations. In an email to supporters on Tuesday, Cain’s campaign wrote:
"The fact is that Ms. Bialek has had a long and troubled history, from the courts to personal finances - which may help explain why she has come forward 14 years after an alleged incident with Mr. Cain, powered by celebrity attorney and long term Democrat donor Gloria Allred."
A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC polls reveals that people’s negative opinion of Cain has risen in light of these allegations from 18 percent in October to 35 percent. Respectively, among Republican primary voters, the percentage has risen from 6 percent to 19 percent.
“Common sense, pocket book conservative women will be able to do their own research and will make up their own mind in regard to Herman Cain,” DeJournett said, adding that she’s glad the allegations have come out now and not in the general election.
“We need to get back to focusing on how to fix the economy and create jobs. We’ve all had enough of this reality television style campaign process.”