Can Herman Cain survive by attacking his accusers?

The embattled GOP presidential frontrunner confronts his sexual harassment charges by lashing out at his accusers. Is Cain just making things worse?

GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain says Sharon Bialek, who accused him of inappropriate sexual conduct, is a liar, and insists that anyone else who accuses him is a liar as well.
(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

In a dramatic Tuesday news conference, Herman Cain charged that Sharon Bialek, one of several women accusing him of sexual misconduct, lied when she said he groped her 14 years ago. The GOP presidential frontrunner called Bialek's account "baseless, bogus and false," and said Bialek and three other women who have accused him of sexually harassing them in the 1990s are part of a coordinated attempt to get him to abandon his campaign, which he said "ain't gonna happen." Moments before Cain spoke, one of his previously anonymous accusers, Karen Kraushaar, went public, suggesting that all the accusers hold a joint press conference. Cain's chief of staff, Mark Block, dismissed Kraushaar's claims on Fox News by saying — apparently falsely — that Kraushaar's son works at Politico, which broke the story. (A journalist named Josh Kraushaar used to work at Politico, but left for National Journal last year. And he isn't related to Karen Kraushaar.) Is it smart for Cain to go after his accusers so aggressively?

Cain should expose his accusers' questionable motives: "If there is anyone more despised than a cad, it's a gold digger," says Daniel J. Flynn at Human Events. So Cain is smart to fight back against these "amorphous accusations," and against the reviled establishment media trumping up these charges to smear his campaign. Judging by Cain's enduring strength in polls, it's working.

"The Cain mutiny"

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Cain's attacks are just giving the story "new life": There is no "grand conspiracy" against Cain, says Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Beast. The only thing these women have in common is that they were "all grossed out by Herman Cain." By claiming the women are out to get him, Cain is only forcing them to "respond to being called liars." So instead of putting the matter behind him, "Cain has just given this story major new life."

"Live-blogging the Cain presser"

Cain's vicious defense will turn off voters: Cain is playing with fire, says Alexander Burns at Politico. The day after Bialek went public, the Cain campaign emailed reporters a detailed account of her "troubled history," including a paternity lawsuit and a bankruptcy filing. Unless Cain "succeeds in completely discrediting Bialek," casting her as "some kind of gold digger" will make Cain look pretty bad, "particularly in the eyes of Republican women."

"Herman Cain campaign launches attack on accuser Sharon Bialek"

And the lies from Team Cain are way over the line: This spectacle would be "pretty funny if it weren't so entirely pathetic," says Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway. Consider Mark Block's performance on Fox News. "The guy who is supposedly running the campaign of a Republican frontrunner has gone on television on multiple occasions and blatantly lied." Cain should fire Block immediately. "That this is the kind of person Herman Cain would hire" in the first place "speaks volumes" about the candidate. And the fact that Cain is still leading in the polls "speaks volumes about Republican voters in 2011."

"Cain campaign manager Mark Block lies again"

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