Alec Hamilton, Assistant Producer, WNYC News
Alec Hamilton is an Assistant Producer in the WNYC newsroom. She produces Morning Edition and starts her work day very, very early.
Presidential hopeful Herman Cain has boasted that his supporters are "voting with their dollars," contributing more to his campaign than ever since the allegations of sexual harassment became known. But is the candidate losing support among women?
An ABC poll conducted after the 2010 elections found that women were voting Republican in the highest numbers ever, with an even 49 percent to 49 percent voting for Republican or Democratic House candidates. So losing the Republican women's vote would hardly seem to be in any GOP candidate's best interest.
Yet Cain's supporters don't seem concerned. At the CNBC debate Wednesday night, the audience members appeared to be right on board with him. They booed moderators for questions about the accusations, and cheered uproariously as Cain flatly denied all the allegations. Cain topped off the night with a reference to “Princess Nancy” Pelosi, a cringe-inducing moment for a man embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal.
It’s A Free Country reached out to some powerful Republican woman leaders in New York State, to hear their what they're thinking about Cain.
Edna Smith confessed that she hadn’t watched this debate, but had only seen the highlights relayed the following morning. She believes that the booing of the audience might not have been protest about the allegations, but rather may have been about the terms of the debate –her understanding was that the moderators had promised not to ask about the charges.
The national level of her organization, the National Federation of Republican Women, held their biennial convention at the end of September. Herman Cain attended, and in fact won a straw poll conducted among the women their, with Perry coming in second and Romney third.
While Smith cautioned that there is still not enough information available to decide definitively if Cain is guilty of the charges he faces, she does find it fishy that he would pay such large settlements
“It’s kind of hard to believe that four women have said that he did this and he claims he doesn’t know who they are. I’ve lost a lot of respect for him. Why would there be a $40,000 settlement if he didn’t do it?”
Smith finds it incredulous that the campaign wouldn’t have seen this coming. “How would anyone running for president not know that they’d be looking into your background?” she laughed. “There are no secrets anymore.”
Former Rep. Sue Kelly, who represented New York's 19th Congressional District from 1995 through 2007, sent the following statement:
Probably the most important thing about the GOP Presidential debates is the public has a chance to examine the character of the candidates.
As Herman Cain's campaign rolls on, we see a candidate backing and filling about a possible mess. His supporters are ignoring a very real question of character in trying to prevent discussion his handling of recent accusations.
He apologized about his calling Nancy Pelosi, "Princess", but continues to obfuscate the issue of his possible sexual harassment in his workplace. At first it seemed there was one possibly disgruntled woman, but now there are several. Too many to be ignored.
Questions arise. Where is Herman's wife? Why is she choosing not to "stand by her Man"? Why not come clean with the full story? Why is his campaign staff still saying they are, "letting Herman be Herman"? They must know this story will ultimately damage his run.
I look at the issue and wonder if it represents his general attitude of dismissiveness toward women. In today's world, women are no longer second class citizens.
Most disturbing is his appearance of dodging the issues. The GOPers who were in attendance supported that and indicated a strong desire not to know the truth when they booed the questions asked.
THIS ISN'T A TEAM SPORT. A CAMPAIGN IS A JOB INTERVIEW.
IF THE GOP REFUSES TO GET ALL FACTS ABOUT ALL CANDIDATES OUT ON THE TABLE, THEY COULD SADDLE THE NATION WITH A BAD HIRE.
“There are a lot of unanswered questions at this point. I guess we’ll be hearing more about this. As a woman, I’m not going to condone that behavior, and I’m not looking for a president like that, but right now they are just allegations.“
Reilly said the booing was likely an expression of the sentiment that a debate should focus on issues of the economy and national security, rather than on disputed allegations.
“During the debate I think people want to talk about serious issues. That [allegations] needs to play out in a separate arena.”
Asked if Cain’s stance on other issues would matter if the allegations were true, Reilly hesitated. “I’m still learning about him.” But she does think his actions will harm his standing. “There may be some people put off by it. Especially women.”
She also disapproved of Cain referring to Speaker Nancy Pelosi as “Princess Pelosi”, calling it “inappropriate.” “Believe me, I’m no fan of Nancy Pelosi, but that would not be proper. I took him as more of a gentleman.”
It's A Free Country also reached out to the offices of Nan Hayworth, Nicole Malliotakis, and Ann Marie Buerkle, but were not yet able to obtain a response.