Herman Cain: 'I Have Never Acted Inappropriately'
GOP presidential candiate Herman Cain denied allegations of sexual harassment brought by several women, telling a news conference on Tuesday: "I have never acted inappropriately with anyone. Period."
A defiant Cain declared he would not drop his bid for the Republican presidential nomination in the face of allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior.
"Ain't gonna' happen," Cain said a day after a fourth woman accused him of unwanted sexual advances.
"We will get through this," he added, trying to steady a campaign that has been rocked by the controversy for the past 10 days.
Cain denied anew that he had ever behavior inappropriately and said the alleged incidents "they simply didn't happen." He said he would be willing to take a lie detector test if he had a good reason.
Earlier in the day, Cain sought to undercut the credibility of the latest woman whose accusations are threatening his Republican presidential campaign.
His chief rival, Mitt Romney, weighed in for the first time, calling the allegations "particularly disturbing."
Cain said he called the news conference because he wanted to speak directly to the public, accusing the media of distorting his response to the allegations.
He said that had never seen Sharon Bialek until she called her news conference on Monday in New York, alongside attorney Gloria Allred.
"I don't even know who this woman is," he said of Bialek. "I tried to remember if I recognized her and I didn't."
Another name confronted Cain, as well, when one of his two original accusers was identified publicly by news organizations including The Associated Press as Karen Kraushaar, now a spokeswoman in the Treasury Department's office of inspector general for tax administration.
When asked about Kraushaar, Cain said he recalled her accusation of sexual harassment but insisted "it was found to be baseless."
There were growing signs of unease in conservative circles as the Georgia businessman tried to stem the controversy in its second week.
"If there is a pattern then it's a part of his character and then, yes, it is going to matter," Tony Perkins, head of the conservative Family Research Center, said in an interview.
Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who has been a GOP front-runner for months, told ABC News/Yahoo! the allegations were serious "and they're going to have to be addressed seriously."
He called the latest accusations disturbing, and Cain didn't disagree.
"He's right. They are disturbing to me," Cain told ABC News/Yahoo! "They are serious. And I have taken them seriously." But they're untrue, he declared anew.
"I reject all of those charges," he said, adding that "I have never acted inappropriately with anyone" and didn't even recognize Bialek.
Prominent Republicans pressed for a full accounting.
"Get all the facts in front of people, otherwise he's going to have this continuing distraction," Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a former Republican National Committee chairman with deep ties to the GOP establishment, told MSNBC.
Though recent polling shows Cain still doing well, party operatives suggested it was only a matter of time before his political standing could suffer.
"Herman's base is going to stick with him," said Republican strategist Rick Tyler, Newt Gingrich's former spokesman. "But the average Republican voter who is not as engaged as intensely in the race, is sick of this and, for Cain, the concern is they will pass on it and pass on him."
An upstart in the presidential race, Cain shot to the top of opinion polls and emerged in recent weeks as Romney's main conservative opponent, with tea party activists and other conservatives flocking to the former pizza company executive's tell-it-like-it-is style and outsider image.
But he's spent the past 10 days battling accusations from women that he acted inappropriately toward them while he headed of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s.