Opinion: I'll Defend Cain Against Harassment Claims (But Still Won't Vote for Him)

I'm not supporting Herman Cain for president. I've been dancing around this fact because it is hard for me to admit. I don't have a candidate yet but I will be happy with either Rick Perry or Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee. 

I worked on Herman Cain's U.S. Senate primary campaign in 2004 in Georgia and he remains my all-time favorite candidate.  His loss in that race was the most heartbreaking political defeat of my career. I still think he's amazing, smart, genuine, and capable, I just don't think he's ready to be president. I would like to see him bone up his foreign policy credentials. I don't like his 999 plan because I don't trust the government to keep the federal income tax at the agreed-upon 9%.  Most of all, I don't think someone who has never held elected office can beat Obama and that is priority #1 this election.

I note all this now to be clear that my defense of Herman Cain, against charges of sexual harassment while he was at the National Restaurant Association, is not political in nature.  He isn't "my guy" for president who I will defend to the death because I have a political allegiance. I was a big fan of South Carolina governor Mark Sanford, but the moment the story broke that he hadn't been heard from in days, and was "hiking the Appalachian trail", it was clear to me that he was either on drugs or with a woman. I had written about him as a possible future presidential candidate and yet it didn't even cross my mind that he was innocently on a walkabout somewhere.  I didn't defend Sanford for one second even when the story still seemed guilt-free.

I feel very differently about Herman Cain.

Cain is the kind of guy who is exactly the same behind the scenes as he is when he's "on".  He's honest and direct.  There's no nonsense with him.  His charm is not a flirtatious charm.  He is not lecherous.  He is the same towards men as he is towards women. While he has a dazzling personality, he doesn't use it to inflate his own ego.  He knows his strengths, of course, but he doesn't seem like the kind of person to try to get away with things.  He doesn't do things because he can.  Many of his ex-staff from his U.S. Senate campaign have gone on the record saying this story does not at all represent the Herman we know.

I could be wrong, that's always a possibility, but in general I know people and I know Herman Cain.  As Matt K. Lewis points out in the Daily Caller, Cain has made it a central point of his campaign that his background is clean as a whistle.  You don't do that when you know you have skeletons.  Lewis also quotes "Joe Fassler, a former NRA Chairman of the board of directors, and the man who recruited Cain for the job" as comparing the job to that of the mayor of NYC.

Lewis adds: "Why might this be relevant? It’s certainly not dispositive — but the magnitude of Cain’s old job implies he managed a large number of people — and that he probably ruffled more than a few feathers. These facts probably increase the odds that a few former employees might be disgruntled."  From knowing Cain this seems like the most likely explanation.

In our 24-hour news-cycle world it's hard not to have a story like this mar a person's reputation.  The feeling for many of us, myself included, is that if there is smoke there is fire.  I think we're wrong this time and hope we get to learn the truth.

Born in the Soviet Union and raised in Brooklyn, Karol Markowicz is a public relations consultant in NYC and a veteran of Republican campaigns in four states. She blogs about politics at Alarming News and about life in the city with her husband and baby at 212 Baby. She can be followed on Twitter.