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JOHN KING, USA

Herman Cain Under Fire; Interview With South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham; New Sex Allegations Against Cain: Arizona Governor: Border Control is Not Better Now

Aired November 2, 2011 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.

Tonight: explosive new allegations in the Herman Cain sexual harassment allegations drama. And one of the allegations comes directly from the Republican presidential hopeful. He is now pointing an accusatory finger at a senior adviser to Texas Governor Rick Perry. That adviser, Curt Anderson, worked for Cain when he ran for Senate several years ago and Cain says he told Anderson about one of the sexual harassment allegations.

Here's how Cain in a conversation with a reporter for "Forbes" magazine recounted a 2003 conversation with Anderson as they discussed potential obstacles to that Senate candidacy -- quote -- "Those charges were baseless, but I thought he needed to know about them. I don't recall anyone else being in the room when I told him."

But Anderson tonight emphatically tells CNN it never happened, denying he ever discussed those allegations with Cain.

Also tonight, an Oklahoma Republican political consultant who did work for the National Restaurant Association tells CNN he personally witnessed Cain behaving inappropriately around a female employee. Chris Wilson said the incident took place when Cain was the head of the restaurant group and at a restaurant just outside of Washington.

And just prior to speaking to CNN, Wilson told Oklahoma radio station KTOK, he witnessed more than one red flag encounter.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

CHRIS WILSON, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: I was actually around a couple of times where this happened. And just anyone who was involved with the Restaurant Association at the time knew that this was going to come up.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

KING: Now, Wilson's allegation is both explosive and complicated by politics. Wilson was a pollster for the Restaurant Association at the time. Now as he goes public and says he witnessed Cain acting inappropriately, Wilson is working for a so-called super PAC that is supporting the Perry presidential campaign.

And one more allegation to add even more drama to a test that now threatens the Cain candidacy. The Associated Press tonight is reporting that it has spoken to a third woman who says Cain behaved in an aggressive and unwelcome way around her when she worked at the Restaurant Association.

Mr. Cain himself was in no mood to talk about any of this today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Don't even bother asking me all of these other questions that you all are curious about, OK? Don't even bother.

QUESTION: It's a good question, though.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Are you concerned about the fact that these women do want to -- that perhaps...

(CROSSTALK)

HERMAN CAIN: What did I say?

(CROSSTALK)

Excuse me. Excuse me!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: At least one of the women is trying to tell her account. The Restaurant Association confirms tonight it was contacted by her attorney, and the attorney says he wants to negotiate an end to the confidentiality agreement she signed when she reached a cash settlement with the trade group back in the late 1990s.

Those talks likely to begin in earnest between the attorneys tomorrow. It is, to say the least, a dizzying collection of allegations and denials, and it comes just 62 days before the first votes are cast in Iowa, a critical state to both the Cain and the Perry candidacies.

Let's discuss this fast-moving story and the political consequences with our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, Richard Miniter, he's the "Forbes" reporter who spoke with Cain today, our conservative contributor Erick Erickson, the editor in chief of RedState.com, and in New Orleans, CNN contributor and Democratic consultant James Carville.

Richard, I want to go to you first.

You're the one Herman Cain called to say, I know who did this to me and it is Curt Anderson. Now, Mr. Anderson emphatically denies it, but explain how that conversation came about.

RICHARD MINITER, "FORBES": Well, Cain and I spoke this afternoon after talking to a number of his senior staff and talking to people connected to the Perry campaign and other campaigns. Obviously, Politico's been saying from the beginning the motivation behind this story is secondary. But in some ways, it's primary. This is -- Herman Cain is the first black Republican candidate to be a serious contender, in fact, leading in most state polls.

And which candidates decided to put the knife in his back, that's newsworthy. And at "Forbes," we take a look at that. Cain went on the record and he said definitively that during his Senate campaign he only told one person in a private room in their campaign headquarters in Atlanta. And that was Curt Anderson. Curt Anderson later phoned me to deny the allegation, saying he has nothing bad to say on or off the record about Herman Cain and denies recalling that at the time.

KING: And Curt Anderson denied that to me. His brother, Wes, who works with him in that firm also called to say he was part of that campaign, recalls no such conversation. He said Curt never relayed to him. He doesn't recall Cain ever saying that.

Here's something else, Gloria. I want to read this. This is from your article, Richard, you posted online. "'I told my wife about this in 1999, and I have got nothing to hide,' Cain told me Wednesday. 'When I sat down with my general campaign consultant, Curt Anderson, in a private room in our campaign offices in 2003, we discussed opposition research on me. It was a typical campaign conversation. I told him there was only one case, one set of charges, one woman while I was at the National Restaurant Association. Those charges were baseless, but I thought he needed to know about them. I don't recall anyone else in the room when I told him."

Number one, that should be a normal campaign conversation. That should happen in any conversation. You have a meeting and you say, what's out there that could get me in trouble down the road somewhere?

(CROSSTALK)

MINITER: Just to clarify, John, in the context of that conversation, when he went charges, he did not mean criminal or even civil charges. He meant allegations.

KING: Allegations, allegations, that's an important point. Thank you.

Here's what jumps out at me. "I told my wife about this in 1999, and I have got nothing to hide."

We went through a couple of days, and part of the issue here politically, whatever you think about this, whether you think it's baseless or not, is Mr. Cain's explanations have been somewhat inconsistent. And if he told his wife in 1999, why was this such a surprise the other day?

(CROSSTALK)

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, early on, we heard a lot of I don't recalls, right? And now we have learned through his own admission that he told his political consultant and his wife.

So if it was important enough and he remembered it enough to tell his political consultant, one would presume after the Politico story or while he was being called by Politico, this is something that he would have recalled publicly. So I think this is another political unraveling for him, if you will. I mean, to say that he's handled this badly is an understatement, but I think this makes it worse.

KING: Erick?

MINITER: John, could I add to that?

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Please. Sure.

MINITER: If you look at the pattern of conversations between J.D. Gordon, a spokesman for Cain, and Politico, initially Politico was alleging that the female staffer had an affair with Cain, and provided no documents, no details, no names, nothing.

So the Cain campaign was scrambling to try to figure out who the woman was, what the allegations were. And then when Politico added to that that there were two women, they were further stumped. They had nothing concrete to respond to. They have been hammered here for responding poorly, and maybe rightly so, but they didn't have enough to grab onto to know what the allegations were beyond the single set that he recalled from the late '90s.

KING: So, Erick Erickson, on the right, what is the buzz tonight? You have Mr. Cain making a direct allegation against a veteran Republican political operative who once worked for him, also worked for Mitt Romney, worked for the Republican National Committee, and now is associated with the Perry campaign.

Ray Sullivan, Governor Perry's top spokesman, says -- quote -- "No one with the Perry campaign was in any way involved in this." That's straight and emphatic. "No one with the Perry campaign was in any way involved in this. The first we learned of it was from the Politico story."

Erick Erickson, how does this play out on the right?

ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I'm out in California to interview Governor Perry tonight, and you can bet I'm going to ask him about this.

But everything's jumping on two things, John. The first is that so he's known about this since 2003. He's known that this consultant, if we take him at his word, was not going to back him. And the campaign expects something to come out, but is caught flat-footed?

Yes, the Politico could have mixed up details and called something, but we're now on Wednesday, and the campaign still can't get its story straight. But the other thing that is sticking out to people now is that he said in his statement to Richard about this, he told Curt Anderson there was one complaint. We're now on three women.

KING: James Carville is a veteran of political campaigns.

You're a Democrat in the conversation, but we went through 1992 and the Bill Clinton campaign together and there were a lot of whirlwind days about this, that, and the other thing. We don't need to go back in history. As you watch this play out, what is Herman Cain doing right, if anything, and what is he doing wrong, if anything?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the first thing is, they're fatigued and they're mad. And I understand that, because that's the thing that you go through.

The second thing is, to everything they do, they have to talk to lawyers. They have to talk to lawyers at the Restaurant Association, they have to talk to their lawyers, they have to talk to everything. The third thing is, there always continues to be this sort of dribble- out, if you will.

I think they're convinced this is the Perry campaign. This guy from Oklahoma coming forward that is working for a Perry super PAC doesn't do anything but confirm their thought that it's from the Perry campaign. And I know anybody that's been involved in presidential politics will tell you the animosity in primaries is much, much, much deeper than it is in general elections.

So there's real, real friction between the Perry and the Cain campaign here. What we did, if you will recall, in '92, right after the Gennifer Flowers allegation is we went right on "60 Minutes" and confronted it right up front. Now, we had a very skilled candidate and we were pretty aggressive about it.

Now, it seems that Cain is just kind of hoping this is going to go away and he's hoping against hope. This is not going to go away. And Gloria and Erick are right. It's all conflicting in something like this. But it generally is when you don't know all the facts and when you're also fudging a little bit.

KING: And James just mentioned this Oklahoma political consultant. I want everyone to listen to his voice and then I want to bring Gloria back into the conversation, because she spoke to him today. This is Chris Wilson. He's a pollster, and he now works down in Oklahoma. He worked for the Restaurant Association at the time.

And it's very important to note, we're not accusing anyone of anything, but he now works for a political action committee that is trying to help Rick Perry win the presidency. Listen to Mr. Wilson here describe what he says he saw.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

WILSON: I was the pollster for the National Restaurant Association when Herman Cain was the head of it. And I will tell you, I was actually around a couple of times where this happened. And just anyone who was involved with the Restaurant Association at the time knew that this was going to come up. I know the woman that is now being talked about.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

KING: You talked to him. And how did he deal with, A, exactly what he saw, and, B, the idea that some would say convenient, you're helping Rick Perry now.

BORGER: Well, he wouldn't go beyond what he said on the radio show. But I asked him point-blank, OK, you do polling for a super PAC for Rick Perry, OK? You're a little suspect here.

And his answer to me, and let me quote you this: "I had nothing to do with leaking this in any way and I have never discussed or shared this story with any of my clients, period."

But I can tell you, in talking to some people in the Perry campaign today, they're not happy about him going on the radio and saying this, because they're like, we don't need this. Herman Cain is accusing us of leaking this story. We didn't leak this story. And now you have somebody with the super PAC talking about it, and went to great pains, sources in the campaign, to me to say, we are separate from the super PAC. We have nothing to do with it.

KING: Right.

MINITER: All roads lead back to Rick Perry on this.

BORGER: Do we know? I don't know.

(CROSSTALK)

MINITER: And Wilson has more than just one connection to the super committee here.

(CROSSTALK)

ERICKSON: I disagree with that. Richard, I would really disagree with that.

(CROSSTALK)

ERICKSON: You have got people on the board of directors of the National Restaurant Association, the CEO who came after Cain. They're Romney donors.

We can't be throwing out things like Perry or Romney. I mean, for all we know, this came from the National Restaurant Association, from someone who doesn't like Herman Cain. The issue, to me, is when someone sticks a camera in Herman Cain's face and says, don't you think these women should be heard from, what's he going to say? He can't say no.

KING: We're going to talk about this. There's a lot more to talk about, a lot more specifics of the allegations, specifics of the response, how it's been handled politically and the potential impact, especially in the key early states that will be voting before you know it.

But when you had this conversation with him today, one of things you're trying to do is get information, you're trying to get facts, you're trying to get when did this happen, who did you talk to, what's your response? And the other thing you are trying to get is a sense of the candidate? Does he sound confident? Did he sound rattled? Did he sound nervous?

MINITER: He sounded tired, but he did sound confident. He was fairly detailed in his recollections.

He remembers the moment -- he described the room that they were in -- when he had that one-on-one with Curt Anderson. It's a he said/he said. It's his word against his word. It's hard to say what the evidence is.

Anderson is certainly denying it strongly. But it is the kind of conversation you would have in a campaign. They never did actually do the opposition research that's typically done on your own candidate, but they discussed the possibility of it, according to Cain, and Cain said, I have to bring this up.

The other thing, too, is there's no specific allegation. The Politico stories, if you talked to, as I did, Joel Bennett, the lawyer representing one of the women, there's no documents. The lawyers doesn't have any documents. The Restaurant Association doesn't is not releasing any documents.

(CROSSTALK)

MINITER: Nobody knows what we're talking about here.

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: If this is a question of sexual harassment...

(CROSSTALK)

MINITER: The Oklahoma guy says "this." What's "this"?

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: If this is a question of sexual harassment, then I think at some point we have to stop talking about who leaked what went, and talk about actually...

(CROSSTALK)

MINITER: Gloria, what's the harassment? What were the specific words said? What were the situations?

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Time-out. Time-out. Time-out.

There are two separate issues here, you're exactly right. Number one, if there are allegations, specificity, please. What was alleged to have happened? How was it handled? That is if we see these -- if the woman gets out of the confidentiality agreement. Number two is the political fallout, how the campaigns are handling it, and if someone nefariously is behind it.

We will continue to work this issue and we will continue to talk with our correspondents.

When we come back, a Republican senator from a key state who had dinner with Herman Cain last night, what does he make all of this? Lindsey Graham is up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: So, how is Herman Cain handling this campaign crisis, and how will it play out in the key early primary states? Let's talk to a senator who had dinner with Mr. Cain just last night, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of several Republican senators who sat down for dinner; Herman Cain also meeting with some Republican House members today.

Senator, just first up, you've been through a lot of these rodeos. You were up and down in the McCain campaign a few years ago. What do you make of all this?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I think it will pass, but, you know, Herman needs to chill out. He's confident he did nothing wrong. He knows what he did.

And the story will stick around for a while. Try not to be angry. Just tell the facts as you can remember them. They were a decade ago. It's not hurting him yet, and I don't think it will, as long as it stays inbounds of where it is today.

KING: Around the dinner table last night, how much sometime was spent on this?

GRAHAM: I didn't talk to him at all about it. I got there kind of late.

It was really a good dinner. We talked about foreign policy, about his campaign. You know, how do you account for his success. And it was very upbeat. Very charming fellow.

KING: When you hear him say, absolutely, emphatically no, never happened, do you take him at his word?

GRAHAM: Yes. I mean -- about the sexual harassment?

KING: Yes, sir.

GRAHAM: Yes, I think -- yes. In his mind, he did nothing wrong. It's hard for him, hard for his family, hard for the campaign. I'm sure it's hard for these two ladies.

You know, this was 12 years ago, and a $35,000 settlement, when you take out attorney fees, you know, quite frankly, is not a whole lot of money in these things, even though $35,000 is a lot of money to the average person. So the settlement itself says a lot about, I think, the way it was perceived.

KING: I want to make sure our viewers know you're an accomplished attorney, not just a member of the United States Senate, as you make that judgment.

Well, you know, you went through the ups and downs with John McCain, you went through campaign crisis. When you see this, we might have a he said/she said about the allegations, let's set that aside a little bit, now we have a he said/he said about who's responsible. Mr. Cain pointing the finger about a veteran Republican operative, saying I told him about this when he worked for my Senate campaign, now he works for Rick Perry. That operative saying never happened, no way, no how.

How's that going to impact the race?

GRAHAM: You know, I think it takes it in a different area, like you say, John. And my advice to Mr. Cain just chill out. If you don't know how it came about, don't accuse somebody unless you know it for sure because you don't want to be accused of something based on innuendo or suspicion. So if you really don't know the young man did this, you shouldn't say it.

You can suspect it, I suppose, but obviously somebody leaked this with Herman's best interests not in mind. This is a political deal. This came out because of political reasons. And it could have been a lot of people.

KING: You twice have made the point he needs to chill out. Do you get the sense that he has the right group, the experienced group, the measure, the calm group around him? A presidential level campaign team that will help him get through this?

GRAHAM: I think he's behaving like an average person would, who feels like, you know, they're turning my life upside down. This happened 12 years ago, it was settled, I did not wrong. And I think he's, you know, taken back by it all.

But they'll get better at this, because it does come with the job. And as you know, somebody leaked this story, trying to do political damage to him, and now he has to show the public that he can withstand attacks like this because it's part of the job, unfortunately.

KING: The United States Senate is known as the world's greatest deliberative body. I have been up there enough to know --

GRAHAM: Oh, we're certainly deliberative.

KING: The cloakroom is also one of the great gossip and water cooler conversations in the United States of America when it comes to politics.

When people talk about this -- obviously, you guys talk about the status of the presidential campaign, all the big things in politics all the time -- what is the buzz on the Hill about this? What do people think about it?

GRAHAM: Well, you know, everybody's so smart up here. You know, get all the details out. Well, you know, it's 12 years ago. You know, we're all really smart about how to handle these things, until it happens to you.

The public is what Herman's worried about, not the cloakroom. And apparently the public understands that Herman's a sincere, honest guy, trying to run for president in a different fashion and are responding well to him.

You know, not one senator, including me, would have predicted Herman Cain leading the pack at this stage. So what do we know?

KING: So let's look at your state. You know a bit about South Carolina and the conservative voters in South Carolina. In our latest poll in South Carolina, conducted just last week -- and I want to be clear, before this, so we'll get a sense in our next one whether or not this has any impact -- but before this, Governor Romney, 25 percent, Herman Cain, 23 percent. Then you drop down to Congressman Paul and Rick Perry at 12 and 11, respectively. And if you look closely at the very critical group of Evangelical vote, voter who is identify themselves as born-again Christians in your state, Senator, Herman Cain leading the pack at 28 percent, Ron Paul at 10, Perry, 16. Romney, 19.

So among that critical Evangelical, almost certain to turn out base, he's doing quite well. Will this hurt him?

GRAHAM: You know, I really don't think so, if it stays within the confines of a 12-year-old accusation that was settled for $35,000 and, you know, that's it. It never went to court. You know, I'm a lawyer, and I can tell you, you'd spend a lot more than $35,000 defending one of these things. So I don't think so. It hasn't hurt his fund- raising, and you're right, John, if the election were held tomorrow in South Carolina, Herman Cain would win the South Carolina primary.

What he's got to prove to people is that he's ready to be president of the United States. He's never held elected office before, that may be an asset in the climate in which we live. He was really interested in foreign policy, had a sense, I'm going to listen to the commanders. I want to leave Iraq and Afghanistan too, but I don't want us to have to go back.

So I was really impressed with how grounded he was on a national security vision, even though he doesn't have a lot of experience. So if the election were held tomorrow, Herman would win South Carolina.

KING: Senator Lindsey Graham of the great state of South Carolina, appreciate your time tonight. We'll stay in touch, sir, as the campaign unfolds. We'll see you soon.

GRAHAM: Thank you. KING: When we come back here, more of the allegations and revelations, the new breaking news tonight as Herman Cain battles allegations that he somehow sexually harassed women more than a dozen years ago. He says it never happened, and tonight he's pointing the finger. More details just ahead.

Also, later, a conversation with the governor of a United States state who is leading the national fight against President Obama on the issue of immigration.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Back with tonight's breaking news story.

The Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain not only emphatically denying he ever sexually harassed anyone in the workplace; tonight, he's also pointing a direct finger at a former aide to one of his political campaigns who now works for his Republican rival for president, the Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Let's get back to our conversation.

Our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, is here and CNN contributors Erick Erickson and James Carville.

I want you all to listen. Mark Block is Herman Cain's campaign manager. Just moments ago he was on FOX News and he says he is convinced his candidate did nothing wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK BLOCK, HERMAN CAIN CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I asked Mr. Cain directly, on numerous occasions, were there anything to any of these allegations? And he looked me square in the eye and said no. All right? Mr. Cain has never committed any sexual harassment period, end of story.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: James Carville, Mr. Block makes an emphatic case there. Is that part of the public record they need to create to put this behind them? Or is it Herman Cain's campaign manager, so why should we believe him? He has a bias.

CARVILLE: Well, Mark Block did a spot endorsing his own candidate, and everyone thought it was amazing that a campaign manager endorsed a candidate. So, to me, that's sort of normal, par for the course.

But, look, this doesn't go very far in putting this behind him. They certainly suspect the Perry campaign. Any detective in the world would suspect the Perry campaign, because they actually thought they could benefit more about this. Whether they did it or not, I don't know. But there's a lot of friction.

But, no, this Mark Block saying that he looked him in the eye and said this is not going to help that much in the whole process, I don't think.

KING: And as this plays out, there are -- the original Politico story talked about two women who worked for Cain, under Cain, anyway, at the National Restaurant Association, two women, the Politico story say, went to their superiors and complained about inappropriate behavior that made them uncomfortable.

The Associated Press tonight says it has spoken to a third woman. I want to go back to back to a bit more of the radio conversation. And Gloria spoke to this gentleman after this. This is Chris Wilson. He was a pollster for the Restaurant Association at the time. He's now working for a political action committee trying to help Governor Perry. To some of you, that might mean, why believe him?

But listen to what he says of the kind of conduct he says he knew about when Mr. Cain headed the Restaurant Association.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

WILSON: I will tell you at the time, she was a very lower-level staffer. I think she was maybe two years out of college, and this all occurred at a restaurant in Crystal City. And everybody was very aware of it.

And so it is -- it was only a matter of time, because so many people were aware of what took place. So many people were aware of her situation and the fact that she left after this, that it was a -- everybody knew with the campaign...

(END AUDIO CLIP)

KING: It's curious, because he says that, Gloria. You spoke to him today. If everyone knew about it, well, if everybody, then, or somebody -- somebody of those everybody waited just until -- they didn't release when Mr. Cain was at 2 percent or 6 percent or 8 percent, and this did come out. This is one of the reasons why Mr. Cain is mad.

BORGER: Sure.

KING: It came out when he hit the top.

BORGER: Right. It came out when he hit the top.

And also, if Mr. Wilson is correct, and everybody knew about it, one would presume that in the Cain presidential campaign, if the Senate campaign knew about it, because Herman Cain says he told Curt Anderson when he was involved in his Senate campaign, one would presume if the Senate campaign was told about it, then the presidential campaign would also have been aware when the staff was debriefing him: Is there anything in your background we need to know, that we should know?

So, if the Senate folks knew it, one would presume the presidential folks knew it, which, again, surprises me, given how flat-footed they have been in -- in their response. (CROSSTALK)

KING: Inconsistent, somewhat contradictory.

BORGER: Yes. Right.

KING: So one of the things we're taught at an early age when you get into this business is follow the facts and don't leap to conclusions. Don't let your judgments get out ahead of the evidence. And so I want you to listen here. We mentioned this last night. This is Ann Coulter, the conservative commentator and activist, on Sean Hannity's show on FOX News, and she knew the other day just what was happening here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANN COULTER, AUTHOR: White women feminists.

(CROSSTALK)

SEAN HANNITY, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL'S "HANNITY": ... Clarence Thomas used the term "high-tech lynching." Is that accurate?

COULTER: It absolutely is. It absolutely is, and it's coming from the exact same people who used to do the lynching with ropes. Now they do it with a word processor.

HANNITY: You mean the Democratic Party?

COULTER: Yes!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Erick, on the right, if Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity were so convinced the other day this was coming from the Democratic Party and liberals. And now Herman Cain says this is coming from maybe the Perry campaign or some Republican operative out there, I'm a tad curious. How'd they get there?

ERICK ERICKSON, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you know, initial reaction, not wanting to blame other Republicans or spread the fight around the Republicans.

It seemed pretty clear to me when it first came out that it was opposition research from another campaign. I've got no doubt that there was a supporter for a campaign involved, whether it was a campaign director, I don't know. I know Chris Wilson very well, and he's not the type of guy to go into something like this, making it up. So I would be concerned if I was the Cain campaign.

It's all well and good to do the blame game, whether we blame the Democrats or whether we blame other Republicans, but the moment one of these women gets in front of a TV camera and starts talking, this is going to be a whole different campaign discussion for Herman Cain.

KING: James, describe for our viewers what it's like to be in a campaign war room when this is happening and every second, someone says they know something new and there are allegations and denials and allegations and denials, and at risk is your candidacy?

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: You have no idea. And the ore thing is, they don't have a traditional campaign. So they're not quite set up or equipped for this in the sense that a kind of funded, you know, organized campaign is.

But even if you are, everything is new; everything is different. You're mad, you're tired. You haven't had to deal with this before. You can't imagine what's going on. And then they have all the lawyers.

This fellow Wilson, I don't know what the statute of limitations of this is, but he might have exposed his former client to any number of lawsuits, if everybody at the Restaurant Association knew that someone was harassing somebody, they could have a real legal issue. He could have opened his former employer up to a legal problem here. I don't know.

The other thing I would say in the sexual harassment thing, sometimes you can honestly -- the male can honestly believe that he didn't sexual harass someone, and the female can honestly believe that she was sexual harassed. I mean, I don't know if there's a definitive definition of this kind of thing. So maybe Cain believes he didn't do anything wrong, and maybe these women think that he obviously did do something wrong. That's always a possibility.

BORGER: James, what if you're an adviser and you don't think you know the whole story, which I think happened during the Clinton years, right?

CARVILLE: Sure.

KING: I'm going to -- I'm going to call a time-out on this conversation. We'll save the Clinton historical lesson for another day. Mr. Erickson, Mr. Carville, Gloria Borger, thank you very much.

Coming up next, President Obama is about to leave the country, and he's liable to walk into an unfriendly reception.

And later Arizona governor Jan Brewer whose state is leading the fight to get the Obama administration to do more. What she says is necessary to secure the border.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: There are political questions about these allegations against Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain. Also, some tough legal questions. More now on the explosive developments in the Herman Cain sexual harassment drama.

Joining us from Los Angeles tonight, attorney Lisa Bloom. She works at the Bloom Firm in Los Angeles and is the author of "Think Straight." Also in L.A., trial lawyer Mark Geragos. I want to start with the sensitive issue here of how common is this? Lisa, to you first. How common are there confidentiality agreements where somebody leaves a private-sector employment job because of some -- whether sexual harassment is proved or whether it's an allegation or misunderstanding and then signs a confidentiality agreement and goes off into the sunset?

LISA BLOOM, ATTORNEY: John, in my 25 years as an attorney handling many, many sexual harassment cases, I can tell you that in 100 percent of the agreements, there's a confidentiality clause. If a defense attorney didn't ask for a confidentiality clause, it would practically be malpractice. That's what the company is paying for, in large part. Yes, they're paying for the claim to go away, but they're also paying for silence. That's the way our system works.

KING: And so Mark Geragos, listen to Joel Bennett, he's the attorney for one of these women, who is now in negotiations with the Restaurant Association. He wants the confidentiality agreement thrown out. And here's part of his reason why.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOEL BENNETT, ATTORNEY FOR ACCUSERS: I do believe that his remarks are a violation of the confidentiality provision of the settlement agreement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: He -- he says Herman Cain is talking about this, at least, generally. Therefore, she should be free. Is that right?

MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, it depends on who signed it. Their lease is absolutely correct. If you don't have a confidentiality agreement in there, it's almost malpractice, per se.

But if it was between the association, who was the employer, and her -- and if Cain was not covered by it, then there's a -- there's a real problem. However, if Cain is mentioned in the agreement -- and nobody knows, because they haven't seen it -- then it's an open question.

KING: And there are legal issues here. There are political issues here. And there's a collision, I think, Lisa, between the legal and the political. If one of these women reached out to you, A, what would you ask them? And in the end, what would be your criteria for you to say, "Yes, I recommend you go public"?

BLOOM: Let me see the agreement. Let me pore over the agreement, because everyone is different. That's what I would say to them. In the agreements that I negotiate, I always try to get in for my client a provision that, if the other side talks, if the other side starts bad-mouthing you, then you should be able to talk. And that's the situation here.

But without looking at the agreement, we can't know if that's true. Without language like that in the agreement, I don't think a judge would order it, because confidentiality's a key part of what the defendant is paying for when they make the payment to a sexual harassment plaintiff.

KING: Mark, you argue your cases in court, but some of them are also argued in the court of public opinion. As you've watched Mr. Cain in recent days handle this, he's understandably tense. He's frustrated. As the political consultant, James Carville, just noted, he's probably pretty tired, too, trying to figure out exactly what's going on here. How's he handled himself?

GERAGOS: I don't think this is going to present as big a problem, at least right now, as people are making it out to be. I think on the Republican side, there's a distaste for the claim of sexual harassment.

So I don't know that this won't actually help him in some quarters. And there is kind of this residual Republican resentment over Clarence Thomas and what happened with Anita Hill. I mean, this may play -- actually play well for him in certain -- amongst certain constituencies.

KING: Mark Geragos, a pretty good political consultant as well as a pretty good attorney.

Lisa, it is a dozen years or more, and I know I was making a bit of a joke there, and I don't want to make a joke about this. It's been a dozen years or more. As we've heard in previous conversations, Mr. Cain may have done something that he thinks was appropriate or not over the line. These women may think he did something that was horrendous and over the line. After a dozen or 15 years have passed, should we trust everybody's memory?

BLOOM: Well, I think there's a big difference between this case and the Anita Hill case. Here there are at least two claimants, and they received settlements. So they came forward at the time, contemporaneously, which is what we want women to do. They made their complaint. They went through the process. And one of them, according to "The New York Times," was paid a year's salary at the time.

Now, that's not a nuisance value case. That's not deminimis. I mean, that's a substantial claim. Thirty-five thousand dollars in scheme of -- grand scheme of sexual harassment settlements is not the hugest amount in the world, but it's not nothing either. It was a year's pay to that woman.

So I think these are substantial issues. I think in the 1990s, people were very aware of sexual harassment, what it was, what they had to do to avoid it. And if people were paid off, according to the legal process, and at least one of them had to leave her job, according to the reports, I think that's a significant issue.

KING: Lisa Bloom, Mark Geragos, appreciate your insights tonight, and we'll keep on top of this one as we go forward. Thank you both.

And next, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer accuses President Obama of being patronizing. She tried to explain her state's fight to stop illegal immigration.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" coming up at the top of the hour. Erin is here with a preview, including you have an interview with Newt Gingrich tonight.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: That's right. An interview with Newt Gingrich. And we talked about Herman Cain, and John, wow, was he direct about what he thought about this whole leak and fiasco. You're going to hear what he had to say about that.

But we also talked about polls, where Newt Gingrich has tripled from 3 percent to 10 percent. Here's what he said about how he thinks he can still win.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think if you go back and look at Jimmy -- if you look at Jimmy Carter's polls about this same stage, he was beating Ronald Reagan by almost 2 to 1.

The fact is, we'll get around to a point next summer to have a nominee. If I'm that nominee, I'll challenge President Obama to seven Lincoln-Douglass-style three-hour debates with a time keeper and no moderator. At the end of that process, I suspect he will lose badly. Ronald Reagan pulled away from Jimmy Carter in October.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Makes the case for an open race. That and a whole lot more coming up with our interview at the top of the hour. John, back to you.

KING: He's a big factor right now. Looking forward to it, Erin. Thank you.

BURNETT: All right.

KING: The Obama administration already suing three states because of their tough immigration laws, and considering now taking three additional states to court, Utah, Indiana and Georgia.

At issue, new state restrictions on immigration the administration believes goes beyond state authority. Just this week, for example, the Justice Department demanded that Alabama provide recent school enrollment data. The department wants to know if that state's tough new immigration law is scaring the children of illegal immigrants away from attending school.

Two other states already battling the Obama administration in court also happen to be early stops in the Republican presidential nominating contest. South Carolina and the state that started it all, Arizona.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KING: As titles go, you can't beat it, "Scorpions for Breakfast," the title of Jan Brewer's new book. Governor Brewer is with us today.

Most of this book is about your fight, SB-1070 in your state, your fight with the federal government over immigration reform. And you're very, very critical of the president of the United States in this book. I want to read something. You met him at the White House to discuss this issue.

"We sat down and started with some chitchat. But after a few minutes, the president's tone got serious and condescending. It wasn't long before I realized I was hearing the president's stump speech. Only I was supposed to listen without talking. It was as though President Obama thought he would lecture me, and I would learn at his knee. He was patronizing."

It's a harsh perspective, and it's very different -- remember, we had a conversation just as you walked out of the White House that day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. JAN BREWER, ARIZONA: Well, I feel as I left the day that I was further ahead than I was before I met with him, because I had no answers. He has now told me that I would have information within two weeks, that he would be sending staff out to Arizona to give me the details. So with that, I feel that it was a successful meeting, and I'm encouraged by that. I am very hopeful that he is putting out his hand to help with a solution.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: You were much more positive right after. Why so negative in the book?

BREWER: Today we know he hasn't done what he said that he would do. And we want our borders secured. It's as simple as that.

And it was a cordial meeting. We weren't yelling; we weren't screaming. But it was -- it was like I was a little child at his knee and he was going to tell me. And you want to talk about immigration, comprehensive immigration reform. I wanted to talk about securing our borders, keeping my people safe, keeping America safe, John.

KING: Answer someone who would say that you're maybe -- got a little bit more -- picked some more adjectives to sell a book.

BREWER: Well, maybe I was hopeful that he was going to help us. I wanted to believe that. And I wanted to be somewhat respectful and not blow it all up, in case he did have a softening of his heart.

But the bottom line is, he was. He was very patronizing. He wanted me to listen, and he wanted me to grab ahold of where he wanted to take this immigration issue.

And I just keep saying, over and over again, I basically don't want to talk about anything other than getting my borders secure. And it's your job. It's the federal government's job. And the reason why I wrote the book, John, is because my story has not been told. The story of Arizona has not been told. We keep hearing all kinds of things. You know, our border is more secure than it's ever been. Well, that's not good enough. That's not good enough.

KING: Is it more secure than it's ever been? Is it more secure than it's ever been, though? Because the administration, you just said the president hasn't done his job, that the border's not secure.

They would say, crossings are down. Crime, including in your border cities, is down. Deportations are at a record high. The number of boots on the ground along the border are much higher than in the Bush administration.

BREWER: I guess it depends on the data. Since 2009 there's been over 2 million illegals coming across our border. A fourth of those have been apprehended. Where are the other three-quarters?

And they have new methods. They have the TBA, you know, turn back around, don't count them maybe. But the majority of the people they're apprehending, by the way, are not being apprehended at the border. They're apprehended further into our state. So no, it's not better.

KING: Your state's primary moved up a little bit. You're going to be more important this year. You have a debate at the end of the month with the Republican candidates. I assume you're still not ready to endorse?

BREWER: I'm not ready. I'm going to wait until we have our debate in November 30 and hear and listen very carefully what all our candidates are going to say about all these flash issues. Are they going to put troops down there? Are they going to get us more unmanned vehicles? Are they going to put more Border Patrol? I mean, there's a lot of things they can do. Can they complete our fence?

KING: Most of them support that fence. Governor Perry says it's unrealistic.

BREWER: Well, Governor Perry has in Texas. We believe that there are lots of areas in the state of Arizona that we can fence.

KING: You think it's wrong?

BREWER: I absolutely believe he's wrong.

KING: He also has defended his state's decision to provide in-state college tuition breaks to the children of illegal immigrants. He says it's better than to -- having them maybe sitting in emergency rooms or maybe on the welfare lines. And at least you give them a chance to put them in the economic system. You're shaking your head.

BREWER: No, we in Arizona, we don't agree with that. What's good for Texas is not good for Arizona.

KING: Will that hurt him in your state? BREWER: Very possibly could. The bottom line is he has to explain it and maybe he has an explanation that will make sense to the people of Arizona, but we want the rule of law enforced in Arizona.

KING: What about Herman Cain, who says he was joking and then says maybe I wasn't joking when he says he's going to not only build a fence but he'll electrify it. And they'll put a sign up that says, "It will kill you," essentially. Do you -- is that the right tone, or is that insensitive, saying, "Cross the border and you could be killed"?

BREWER: I think it was a little dramatic. I don't believe that he really believed that. I think that it was his drama at the time that, when he said that.

KING: There are a lot of people in your party who -- maybe not the specifics of the policy but on the tone of this debate worry that the Republican Party is doing perhaps a generation's worth of damage to its support among Latinos. When you have a candidate for president saying "we'll electrocute them," whether it's a joke or not. Is that helpful?

BREWER: Well, you know, probably not. I wouldn't think that it would be helpful. I don't know if it hurts him, because I think it was said in a tone that it was more or less a dramatic statement for whatever the reason. Sometimes we get frustrated. We say things to emphasize certain positions, and I think that's probably what Herman was doing.

KING: Governor Jan Brewer, interesting read about your dramatic immigration fight.

BREWER: Thank you.

KING: Appreciate your time today.

BREWER: Thank you, John.

KING: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: That Arizona Republican debate, November 30, right here on CNN.

Up next, the truth about Herman Cain's response when reporters tried to get him to talk about the sexual harassment allegations.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: "Lashed out," "testy," "ugly," those were some of the descriptions we heard today after Herman Cain made clear to reporters he was not going to answer questions about sexual harassment allegations. Did he lash out? Was it testy or ugly? You make the call.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Don't even bother asking me all of these other questions that you all are curious about, OK? Don't even bother.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a good question, though. Are you concerned about these women do want...

CAIN: What did I say?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you concerned about...

CAIN: Excuse me. Excuse me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: It's safe to say Mr. Cain made clear, emphatically so, he was at that event to talk to doctors, not reporters.

Now I wasn't there, and I don't read minds. So I won't use words that attach a judgment or suggest an understanding of Mr. Cain's mood or his intent.

But I will say I've been at this -- 25 years I've been at this and over that time have found myself in the middle of many, many a testy scrum. And truth is this, when you look back over time and compare them, today's exchange with Mr. Cain was, yes, a little tense but comparatively tame. Anthony Wiener is but one example.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey.

ANTHONY WIENER (D), FORMER CONGRESSMAN: You're pushing me. Give him a break.

You do the questions and I do the answers and this jackass interrupts me? How about that as a new rule of the game.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: There were too many to remember. Back in the Clinton era, questions about that -- questions about the testy candidate about the Vietnam draft, Gennifer Flowers and of course, later to borrow the former president's words, Miss Lewinsky.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold on, hold on.

MONICA LEWINSKY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE INTERN: Excuse me, please!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Not all feisty scrums are political. I remember long ago a cameraman breaking his leg in a chaotic scrum outside a Rhode Island courtroom. That was 25 years ago. More recently this crime and punishment scrum comes to mind.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you sorry...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Madoff...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't believe that you're walking the earth, you piece of...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now that you've been reminded of some, some noteworthy scrums, let's take another look at today's.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAIN: No, no, see, hold on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Again, you can make your own calls to how that rates on the testy scale. Truth is, sometimes in my business, we think we should be able to get answers when we want them, when we demand them. There are times when candidates have every right to get a little annoyed. We should give them space, and a chance to go about their business, but that's a two-way street.

The candidates that get that space earn it by having a constructive relation with the news media. Reporters and photographers are less likely to crowd in if they know the candidate will stop for questions every now and then.

As candidates go, Mr. Cain has been remarkably media friendly up to this point. Whether he remains so, so accessible, is one of the tests of a candidate now in crisis mode.

Now by definition, the scrum is a moving chaotic mess. It makes great television, but in the end nobody wins. Candidates deserve some space. You deserve some answers.

And tonight's "Truth" is just plain old common sense. There's a middle ground that most good campaigns find and find pretty quickly. If Mr. Cain is still in the middle of a messy scrum a few days from now, well, that will tell you something.

That's all for us tonight. Hope to see you right here tomorrow. We'll be live in Iowa with Texas Governor Rick Perry. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.