Cain Accuses Perry Campaign of Smears

It is not unreasonable for Cain to look at the Perry campaign as the source of his current woes.

As Doug Mataconis noted yesterday, the Cain campaign is accusing the Perry campaign of being being behind investigations of sexual harassment allegations.

Via the NYTCain Says Perry Is Orchestrating a Smear Campaign

As he sought to contain the fallout that consumed his campaign for a third day, Mr. Cain shifted his blame from the news media to the Perry campaign. He accused a top political adviser to Mr. Perry of leaking details of one allegation, saying the adviser learned of it while working for Mr. Cain’s failed bid for the Senate in 2004.

Welcome to the big leagues.  This is what hardball politics looks like and this situation underscores why having one’s first major political contest be a presidential run may not be such a hot idea:  all revelations are new revelations and the candidate in question has no practice at dealing with such a situations.

That Perry’s campaign is behind this story strikes me as likely.

1.  Perry has the most to gain if Cain falters.  Perry remains, at the moment, the best NotRomney on the docket after Cain.  While I personally think it unlikely that Perry can seriously challenge Romney at the moment, it is not an unreasonable calculation to assume that in the absence of any other viable option that much of Cain’s support would default to Perry should Cain suffer serious damage.

2.  Perry is known as a fierce campaigner.  As Republican strategist Alex Castellanos put it:  “Rick Perry’s never won races in Texas because he’s loved or because he’s eloquent.  He’s won races because he rips his opponents’ lungs out.”

Of course if, as I think likely, that the Perry campaign is behind this issue, it adds considerable irony to Anita Perry’s laments (see here and here) concerning the amount of scrutiny one receives in a presidential campaign.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics, , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Hey Norm says:

    Of course if Perry is behind it..he’s only helping Romney.

  2. @Hey Norm: Ultimately, this is likely true.

  3. Ron Beasley says:

    There is little doubt this sort of thing is in Perry’s playbook but don’t over look Karl Rove. Doing it and then making it look like Perry did it is in Rove’s playbook. Two birds with one stone.

  4. michael reynolds says:

    Could be Perry, could be Rove, could be none of the above and just be some secretary at the NRA. Ah, but the seed of suspicion is sewn so the story goes on, takes another news cycle, and Cain still has his hands firmly on that shovel. Keep digging, and welcome to politics, pizza man.

  5. If you want to be really conspiratorial, you could take the “Cain doesn’t really want to be president, he just wants to sell his book/get a show on Fox” line and wonder if maybe he’s not smearing himself.

  6. Bleev K says:

    We shouldn’t be upset at Perry, he was probably drunk and didn’t know what he was doing.

  7. PD Shaw says:

    We just need to look at Obama’s Senate campaign against Jack Ryan to see how this would operate — the Obama campaign needled the newspapers to uncover the details of his messy divorce with Jerry Ryan and Obama backers, not necessarily associated with the campaign, sent details of the divorce to the press directly.

    Certain charachterizations are probably overbroad, you don’t need to “orchestrate,” you just have to get the press interested and interested people will feed it.

  8. matt b says:

    @PD Shaw: In general these are the way these things go regardless of party. The reason the press loves this stuff is someone has already done most of the work for them.

    Rove is a possibility. I still have a hard time believing this is directly connected to the Romney camp. Again, my rational is that if I was a Romney adviser, I’d WANT Cain to lead for as long as possible because he’s keeping Perry (the bigger threat) in check.

    Perry has everything that Cain doesn’t — infrastructure, political credentials, and funds. Cain on the other hand has the position and the spotlight. The longer Perry doesn’t have that spotlight, the less chance that he’ll seem a viable alternative to Romney when it comes time for primary voting.

    From Romney’s perspective, Cain is the perfect “feel-good” candidate up until the moment that you vote. And at that moment — contra Manning and Bit — people will most likely switch to Romney as the candidate who can win (just as people shifted for McCain in 2008).

    If anyone can come up with a compelling reason why Romney — at this moment — would want to have Cain implode, please share it. If Cain does fold, the only one who benefits is Perry.

  9. matt b says:

    BTW, if Cain goes down, I predict that he goes all out and screws Perry hard. Say what you want about Cain, but he’s reads as a scrapper and a man I’d be careful about crossing.

    Plus, he might seriously see a path to the VP (or a high level position) if he aligns with Romney.

    Cain as VP it occurs to me, is a really interesting (though I’d imagine very long-shot) thought… A Romney/Cain ticket could be a really effective platform from a campaign perspective.

    It would address all of Romney’s percieved weaknesses (an evangelical to prop up the Mormon, Charismatic to prop up the Calculator, CEO + CEO, Straight Talker to prop up the Calculator), it would speak to the populist base, and it would also be a chance for Republicans to make history (first Black VP). I also think Cain would be an easier VP for the intellectual republicans to swallow than Palin ever was.

    It’s of course a real long-shot at best. And I’m still trying to figure out what Cain really wants — in many respects I’d guess that VP would be a position he’d be more realistically interested in than President. Likewise, I’m not sure that Romney would be prepared to choose a VP with more charisma than himself (though I suspect his pragmatic aspect and his desire to win might trump that concern), That said, I don’t know if Cain’s shoot from the hip style would ever be comfortable for the super controlled (and I suspect controlling) Romney.

  10. MM says:

    @PD Shaw: That assumes that The Obama campaign would like to see Cain damaged and strengthen Romney. Given that Romney has been running for president since 2007 and Cain is running to increase his speaking fees, there’s no rational reason why that would be the case.

  11. Idiot says:

    So what if Perry’s camp did it? If he or whoever didn’t do it, the Obama campaign would have. Grow up.

  12. Hey Norm says:

    A Perry consultant just challenged the press to prove they were behind the “smear”. (Of course it’s not a smear if it’s true.)
    Anyway…shades of Gary Hart.

  13. Boyd says:

    As a minor correction, Steven, this is not Cain’s first political campaign. As you quoted, Cain ran for the Senate in 2004.

  14. @Boyd: True. While I admit that I was ignoring that fact (even with the quote), I think I cover myself in terms of my main point by saying ” having one’s first major political contest”–being a lesser candidate in a primary, even for Senate, doesn’t necessarily qualify as a major political contest, in my mind–certainly in the sense that a lot of the vetting of relevance simply wasn’t going to happen until he became a serious threat to someone.

  15. Liberty60 says:

    Welcome to the big leagues. This is what hardball politics looks like

    Pretty much this.

    As a liberal, I don’t have a dog in this fight,and of course have no way of knowing if the accusations are true or not.

    And to be fair, “sexual harassment” can cover a pretty wide range of behavior, from simple boorishness to coercion and near-rape.

    But even as a veteran politico, it amazes me, the power of panty-sniffing versus serious analysis of a politician’s bonafides.

    The guy proudly brags about how ignorant he is of foreign affairs, and yet the press yawns, and our major political party seems poised to give him control of the launch codes.

    If a sex scandal is what it takes to rescue the Republic from such a buffoon, then so be it.

  16. @Boyd: Full disclosure: in looking at the post again, it looks like James edited it to put “major” in the text. Thanks for pointing it out in any event.

  17. Boyd says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: You know me: Mr Nitpicky! 🙂

  18. @Boyd: No worries. Goodness knows that I need an editor.

  19. PD Shaw says:

    @MM: I’m not suggesting that the Obama campaign is behind any of this; I’m using his Senate campaign as an example of how a candidate’s dirty laundry gets aired by the media with more subtle involvement of the campaign or the involvement of supporters not formally associated with the campaign.

  20. Barb Hartwell says:

    Maybe one of the women leaked it to the press. If he did it to me I sure would, I would not want him to get so close to becoming the front runner for the GOP knowing what a jerk he really is. This is too important a job to not let the American public know. If she did she is helping the Republican party eliminate at least one clown.

  21. Eric Florack says:

    There is little doubt this sort of thing is in Perry’s playbook but don’t over look Karl Rove. Doing it and then making it look like Perry did it is in Rove’s playbook. Two birds with one stone.

    Exactly. And as I’ve said, I doubt Perry is involved. Given what we have seen of his origination, I doubt they could get together a lunch without fouling it up.

    This stuff is the establishment GOP.

  22. Eric Florack says:

    Of course if Perry is behind it..he’s only helping Romney.

    Which in turn helps Obama…. I say again, if Romney gets it we’re headed for McCain v2.0

  23. mantis says:

    Which in turn helps Obama…. I say again, if Romney gets it we’re headed for McCain v2.0

    In reality, Romney is the only real chance the Republicans now have. Cain or Perry would get destroyed in the general election.

  24. G.A.Phillips says:

    And to be fair, “sexual harassment” can cover a pretty wide range of behavior, from simple boorishness to coercion and near-rape.

    and many times its some crazy chick…..the odds of this go up when lots of money is involved.

  25. G.A.Phillips says:

    Which in turn helps Obama….

    Nothing can help Obama….. He sucks…

  26. Hey Norm says:

    Romney: “I’m as consistent as a human being can be”.
    The campaign ads write themselves. This guy has the race handed to him…and he’s doing his best to blow it. Beautiful. 4 more years of GAPhillips Sharing insightful comments like: “Obama sucks”.

  27. michael reynolds says:

    @Eric Florack:
    You’re 100% right Eric. You should absolutely not support a RINO like Romney in the general election. Don’t let yourself be co-opted! Stand firm.

  28. Roberts says:

    I agree rove is a back stabber. He hates anyone he cannot control. that melon head is full of air.