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Cain: I have never committed sexual harassment

By the CNN Wire Staff
November 1, 2011 -- Updated 1639 GMT (0039 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Cain complains of a "smear campaign" against him
  • Cain says he remembers a "separation agreement," not a "legal settlement" with an accuser
  • Of the second alleged incident, he calls the charges "ridiculous"

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Washington (CNN) -- Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain Tuesday denied ever sexually harassing anyone and assailed what he called a "smear campaign" against him.

"I have never committed sexual harassment in my entire career, period," he told HLN's Robin Meade in an interview.

Cain said allegations against him "may affect the poll numbers" in the fight for the GOP nomination, but insisted that "most" of his supporters are not abandoning his campaign.

"We're not going to allow these distractions to get us off message," Cain said.

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Cain's campaign told CNN on Tuesday that nearly $300,000 was brought in from online fundraising Monday, one of the campaign's highest fundraising days ever.

Discussing allegations that have come to light in recent days, Cain said, "This was 12 years ago. I was falsely accused."

Cain said he remembers a "separation agreement," as opposed to a "legal settlement" with one of his accusers.

"We were in my office. The door was wide open" when the alleged offense occurred, Cain said, noting that his secretary was sitting outside at the time of the incident.

The financial settlement with the accuser "was in the vicinity of 3 to 6 months' severance pay," he said, adding that the payment was "not outside our guidelines for what most people get ... when they leave the Restaurant Association involuntarily."

The accusation involves the time he was CEO of the National Restaurant Association.

Cain added that his story has shifted as he has recalled more about the incident.

Cain told HLN he recalls nothing about a second alleged incident of harassment. The charges were "so ridiculous that I don't remember what they are," he said. "Obviously, someone is encouraging them to bring it up now because I'm doing so well" in the political race, he said. "I absolutely believe that this is an intended smear campaign."

CNN's Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

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