Did you watch it?
I did. Twice. Talking about the Herman Cain/ Newt Gingrich “Lincoln-Douglas” style debate carried live on C-Span.
It was marvelous… a breath of fresh air. And as some Twitterers observed, we felt we were watching the next president and vice president… either way. Some comments:
This is just great so far; I love this mutual display of respect and substantive tackling of issues. No gratuitous squabbles. 2 Adults here.
Wife after debate: “I want that ticket. I don’t care which way it goes, but I want that ticket.”
After a generally cordial and policy-filled debate between Cain and fellow Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, the former businessman took questions from reporters during a press conference in which event organizers told reporters the focus needed to be entitlement spending.
“Don’t even go there,” Cain told a reporter who began asking about the harassment allegations. Cain then asked his chief of staff, Mark Block, to deliver the reporter a copy of the “journalistic code of ethics.”
[ snip ]
“Are you not going to answer questions about this ever again?” a reporter asked Cain.
With a grin he said, “You got it,” and began to leave the room to a barrage of shouted questions.
But before making it to the door, he stopped and said, “I was going to do something that my staff told me not to do and try to respond, OK?”
As he began talking, Cain staffers told him he needed to leave – but Cain sat back down.
“We are getting back on message, end of story. Back on message. Read all of the other accounts, read all the accounts, where everything has been answered in a story. We’re getting back on message,” he said.
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The only hint of the recent controversy surrounding Cain’s candidacy came at the end of the debate, when Gingrich asked if anything surprised the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza about running for president.
“There are too many people in the media who are downright dishonest,” he said to applause.
Tea party organizers explicitly limited to the discussion to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Gingrich, however, gave Cain an opportunity to address the allegations with an open-ended question about what has surprised him about running for president.
Cain didn’t hesitate: “The nit-pickiness of the media,” he said.
“It is the actions and behavior of the media that have been the biggest surprise,” he said, his voice rising.
“There are too many people in the media who are downright dishonest. … They do a disservice to the American people,” Cain said, bringing the room to its feet.
[ snip ]
“If I were running this campaign the way the pundits thought I ought to be running this campaign, I would have dropped out in August,” Cain later told reporters.
“When people get on the Cain train, they don’t get off.”
[ snip ]
When reporters tried to ask about the allegations following Saturday’s debate, Cain interrupted.
“Don’t even go there,” Cain said before the reporter from The Washington Post could finish his question.
“Can I ask my question?” the reporter said.
“No,” Cain snapped.
“Please send him the journalistic code of ethics,” Cain instructed his chief of staff, Mark Block.
As he left the press conference, he began to offer an answer.
“If you all just listen for 30 seconds, I will explain this one time,” Cain said.
He then immediately recanted.
“I was going to do something that my staff told me not to do and try to respond, OK?” he said. “We are getting back on message. End of story. Back on message. … Everything has been answered.”
Simply put, the media and Cain’s detractors have over-played their hand. By Friday night, Politico, which broke the original story, had published 94 articles on the allegations in under six days. Every other major publication had followed suit. Every time he stepped out of a room, Cain was mobbed by reporters.
Yet despite the maelstrom, Cain’s accusers remain anonymous and the details of the allegations oddly vague. With many conservatives believing that sexual harassment lawsuits are an industry and that frivolous cases are often settled to avoid more expensive litigation, there was a growing sense that Cain was being treated unfairly.