Cain Maintains Momentum Despite Sexual Harassment Allegations, Polls Show
While revelations of sexual harassment allegations dating from the 1990s have kept Herman Cain's campaign on the ropes all week, two new polls show they have failed to slow down his momentum in the GOP presidential race.
In surveys taken after Politico first reported the allegations Sunday night, Cain is running neck-and-neck with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in a Washington Post-ABC News poll and he's leading the pack in South Carolina, according to a Rasmussen Reports poll.
In the Washington Post survey of Republican and GOP-leaning independent voters, Cain received 23 percent support compared with 24 percent for Romney. It was Cain's best showing in that poll, jumping 6 percentage points from the previous one last month. The latest poll, conducted from Monday to Thursday, has a margin of error of 5.5 percent.
In the Rasmussen Reports polls, Cain had a comfortable lead with 33 percent support from South Carolina's likely Republican voters and Romney drawing 23 percent.
Mark Block, the chief of staff to Cain's campaign, told Fox News on Friday that the polls show the accusations have not damaged the candidate. He added that he won't address the allegations again.
"Mr. Cain is a different kind of candidate," he said. "We ran a different kind of campaign and we are not going to play by the rules that the media has established."
Block said the campaign was considering whether to sue Politico over the stories.
Meanwhile, Joel Bennett, an attorney for one of the women alleging sexual harassment, said Friday he has not yet heard back from the National Restaurant Association on his request to release a statement on her behalf.
Under an agreement stemming from her accusation in 1999, the woman agreed not to speak publicly about the episode she said occurred when she worked for the trade group and Cain was its president.
The association said it would make a decision Friday about whether to grant permission.
After a day in New York largely shielded from media attention, Cain stepped back into public view in Washington for a speech Friday to Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group aligned with the Tea Party movement.
The event was scheduled well before the sexual harassment accusations emerged. The address is the latest in a series of regular campaign appearances Cain has held even as he's offered ever-changing explanations about the charges leveled against him.
"As of today," Cain said hopefully on Thursday, "we're back on message and we're going to stay on message, and we've answered all of these questions."
Cain's political allies are trying to take the offensive. Late Thursday, a group called Americans for Cain released a Web video that, without offering proof, blamed liberals for the furor surrounding Cain and called the process "a high-tech lynching."
The one-minute video maintains that liberals and the mainstream media can't challenge Cain on the merits of his policies, so they've attacked him with the sexual harassment reports, just as Clarence Thomas came under similar scrutiny during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings.
As additional women have claimed harassment by Cain over the course of the past week, his campaign has argued that he's benefiting from the controversy. Cain has hired at least one more national finance staffer since Sunday, when the allegations first surfaced.
His national finance team planned a meeting Friday morning in Washington to discuss strategy as it looks to broaden a grassroots fundraising base that's so far been driven by small online donations -- including more than $1.2 million in contributions since Sunday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.