Jon Huntsman said today that the continuing sexual allegations against Herman Cain have become a major distraction in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, and Cain should consider dropping out.
“Given the bandwidth that has been taken out of the discussion of any other issues pertinent to this campaign, a reconsideration might be in order,” Huntsman told the Globe during an interview.
“You’ve got to be reconsidering just based on how we have lost focus on the issues that really do matter,” Huntsman added. “Every time another accusation comes up, it diminishes our ability to stay focused on the issues that really do matter for the American people. And I think that’s a disservice to the voters.”
Last night, the Fox News affiliate in Atlanta aired an interview with a Georgia woman, Ginger White, who claimed that she carried on a 13-year affair with Cain. Cain has denied the accusation, but coming on top of multiple allegations that he sexually harassed women in the 1990s, Cain has said he is “reassessing” whether to remain in the race.
Some of Cain’s rivals, including Rick Perry, have pointedly declined to comment on Cain’s troubles. But Huntsman, the former Utah governor who has been struggling to gain traction in the race, was adamant that Cain’s problems have become a larger problem for the Republican field.
He recalled watching with dismay last night, as television news coverage filled with reports of Cain’s alleged affair.
“Just watching last night, everyone was glued to the latest bit of drama and I thought, ‘What about a (financial) downgrade that is being anticipated? What about Europe? What about so many other issues out there that we ought to be talking about and that people ought to understand where candidates come down on those issues?’” Huntsman said. “It’s all sort of dissipated in the latest campaign drama around the accusations.”
Michael Levenson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mlevenson.