Statement Analysis®

Herman Cain

In October 2011, Presidential candidate Herman Cain came under fire when two women accused him of sexual harassment. The alleged inappropriate behavior occurred in the mid 1990s while Cain was an executive with the National Restaurant Association. It has been reported that the women accepted a financial settlement which prohibited them from discussing their allegations.

On November 7, 2011, another woman came forward and accused Cain of sexually inappropriate conduct. Sharon Bialek stated that she met Cain at a National Restaurant Association event in 1997. While sitting in a parked car with Cain, Bialek stated that Cain "suddenly reached over and he put his hand on my leg under my skirt and reached for my genitals. He also grabbed my head and brought it toward his crotch."

The following day, Cain held a press conference to address Bialek's allegations. Here are somne excerpts from his press conference.

In regards to her accusations, Cain stated, "With respect to the most recent allegations, I have never acted inappropriately with anyone, period."

Although Cain mentions the "most recent allegations," he shifts his denial to the generic "anyone." We would expect him to mention the name of his accuser; "I never acted inappropriately with Sharon Bialek." It is easier for a deceptive person to give a general denial as opposed to a specific denial.

Although he is talking about Sharon Bialek's allegations, he does not specifically deny them. He does not state, "I never put my hand on her leg." He only denies acting inappropriately. Everyone has their own idea on what is appropriate and what is inappropriate.

As he watched on television Sharon Bialek accuse him of inappropriate conduct, Cain stated, "My first response in my mind and reaction was I don't even know who this woman is. Secondly, I didn't recognize the name at all."

The shortest sentence is the best sentence; "I don't know who this woman is." Extra words such as "even" give us extra information. The word "even" shows a contrast of ideas. Cain stated he did not remember Sharon Bialek. Therefore, he may have used the word "even" because he was thinking about trying to remember who Sharon Bialek is. He may have also used the word "even" because he does remember something about her despite denying he does not knows her.

The words "at all" are not needed. When a person uses these words it is usually in an effort to convince us he is telling the truth. A truthful person will simply state the truth and will not go out of his way to get us to believe him.

"The charges and the accusations I absolutely reject. They simply didn't happen. They simply did not happen."

Order is important. The first thing Cain states is that he rejects the accusations. This means he is not denying the accusations but he is refusing to accept the accusations. He then states twice that the allegations did not happen. A deceptive person will sometimes use repetition to convince us he is telling the truth.

After giving an opening statement, Cain took some questions from the reporters. He was asked if he would take a polygraph. He said he would be willing to take a lie detector test. However, he then added, "But I'm not gonna do that unless I have a good reason to do that."

Although he stated he would take a lie detector test, his language tells us he currently will not take a polygraph. He states that he has to "have a good reason to do that." He is being accused of sexual harassment. He wants us to believe these women are lying. For most people, that would be a good reason for taking a polygraph.

Cain took several questions but no one asked him about the specific allegations. No one asked him if he put his hand on Sharon Bialek's leg.

Towards the end of his press conference he thanked the media for allowing him to "share his perspective on this." While this is a truthful statement it is a weak statement. We would expect him to thank the media for allowing him to "set the record straight" or for allowing him to "tell the truth about these allegations."

During this press conference Herman Cain never denied the specific allegations. He did not state that these women are lying. He continues to state that he never acted inappropriately which is subject to interpretation. He also used language often found in deceptive statements. Chances are if Herman Cain was asked, "Did you place your hand on Sharon Bialek's leg" he would not answer that specific question.


A third woman, Ginger White, has come forward and told a local Atlanta FOX affiliate that she had a 13 year affair with Herman Cain. She produced phone records allegedly showing that she received over 60 call or texts from Herman Cain. Before the news station released her statement, they contacted Herman Cain's attorney Lin Wood on November 28, 2011. They provided Wood with an outline of Ms. White's allegations. Without knowing the specifics of the allegations, Cain appeared on CNN that same night to refute the story. He was interviewed by Wolf Blitzer. A transcript of the interview can be found here. Here are some excerpts from the interview.

In talking about the earlier allegations of sexual harassment, Cain stated, "We chased all of these other rumors for two weeks before. And as it turned out, they were baseless. Why? Because they weren't able to come up with any documentation, any proof or anything that was credible."

Cain states that the reason the previous allegations were baseless is because they had no proof. Technically this is the correct response for why something is baseless. However, if it were me I would have added that the other reason the allegations are baseless is because they never happened.

Blitzer: Was this an affair?

Cain: No, it was not.

Blitzer: There was no sex?

Cain: No.

Blitzer: None?

Cain: No.

Blitzer: And if this woman says there is, she's lying, is that what you're --

Cain: Well, Wolf, let's see what the story is going to be. I don't want to get into, you know, being pinned down on some things until we see what the story is going to be.

Cain does give a good answer in denying the affair. Blitzer's second question is poorly worded. It is more of a statement ("There was no sex") as opposed to being a question. Questions worded like this make it easy for a person to say, "No."

In the last question, Blitzer begins to ask Cain if the woman is lying if she states they had an affair. Cain cuts him off not allowing Blitzer to finish asking the question. This shows us he is anticipating the question. He cuts Blitzer off because he does not want to deal with this type of question. We see further evidence of that when we look at his answer. He does not address the lying issue. He does not want to come out and say, "Yes, if she is making those claims then she is lying." Cain talks about wanting to see what the "story is going to be." He may not know all the specifics of what Ms. White is alleging but I think he does know she is going to claim a 13 year affair with presidential candidate. If the affair did not occur, then why does he not call her a liar?

In talking about the allegations, Cain stated, "I'm more worried that this is going to hurt my wife and my family, because it's going to be proved that it was probably something else that was baseless. And the court of public opinion does not consider that when they want to pass that judgment."

The key word he uses is "probably."

In talking about other potential accusers, Blitzer asked Cain if "there are some others out there?" Cain responded, "I can't possibly say that somebody else might not come up with it. But so far, they've all been found baseless."

The phrase "so far" indicates there could be some future allegations that will not be found baseless. A better denial would be, "I can't possibly say that somebody else might not come up with it but they would be baseless."

We will have to see how Herman Cain responds to Ms. White's specific allegations when they are made public. So far though, based on his language, it appears that Herman Cain will soon be taking the midnight train back to Georgia.


As predicted, on December 3, 2011, Herman Cain suspended his presenditial campaign.

Return to the Famous Cases page