Politico: 'Restaurant Group Nixed Backing Cain,' But Decision Made Weeks Ago, May Not Be Connected to Controversy

November 1st, 2011 1:23 PM

"Restaurant group nixed backing Cain," reads a teaser headline on Politico's website today, hinting to casual readers that a National Restaurant Association (NRA) endorsement of their former chief Herman Cain was a done deal until Politico dug up an old out-of-court sexual harassment settlement. 

The story was also plastered on the front page of the November 1 print edition, headlined "Restaurant Group Tamps Down Cain Talk."

But in the November 1 story itself, Politico staffers Anna Palmer and Kenneth Vogel noted that a teleconference on endorsing Cain was done in October prior to Politico breaking its scoop about the out-of-court sexual harassment settlement (emphasis mine below). Left unmentioned in the story is that the NRA is co-hosting with other trade groups a series of town hall forums where members can phone in questions to presidential candidates:

The National Restaurant Association considered endorsing Herman Cain’s presidential campaign just weeks before POLITICO reported that two association employees accused him of sexual harassment when he served as the group’s CEO in the late 1990s.

But now, as the association deals with the fallout from the allegations against him, it’s trying to tamp down on discussion of Cain and his tenure.


The political committee of the association’s board, which has never endorsed a presidential primary candidate, held a telephone conference this month to consider breaking with tradition to support Cain, sources told POLITICO.

The committee ultimately rejected the idea, but several board members told POLITICO they and other board members intend to fundraise for him individually.

Nowhere in their story did Palmer and Vogel cite anyone from the NRA saying that Cain's tenure at the trade group nor Politico's investigation into the settlement played the determining factor in the decision.

Given how fluid the Republican primary race has been of late, there are numerous strategic reasons why the NRA may have decided against an early endorsement that have nothing to do with Cain's tenure as head of the organization in the 1990s.

Another reason that the endorsement may have been withheld is that the NRA is cooperating with the National Federation of Independent Business and other trade groups to hold phone-in town hall forums whereby members can phone in to ask candidates policy questions.

That series kicked off on October 13 with Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) with National Restaurant Association senior vice president for communications Sue Hensley serving as that forum's moderator.