Presidential hopeful Herman Cain is headed to the Washington D.C. region just as Politico has published a report alleging sexual harassment complaints when he was the head of the National Restaurant Association. David Hawkings, editor of CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing, weighs in on the implications.
Facing allegations, why does Cain come to D.C.?
Herman Cain is hoping to use two appearances, one at the American Enterprise Institute and another later at the National Press Club, to use prominent Washington microphones to give his outsider view of the world.
"It's probably not going to work today," says Hawkings. "Coming to Washington on the morning after a big story like this breaks almost assures that whatever message he wants to put out today will be overwhelmed by a sea of boom mics."
So far, Cain has derided the process of a scandal such as his, but hasn't directly addressed the reporting of the situation that he had this allegedly inappropriate contact, and then allegedly paid them to be quiet about the conduct.
Which candidate has GOP support?
Herman Cain has zero endorsements, which may be part of his strategy running as an outsider. This is in opposition to Romney, who wants to create an aura of inevitability about himself. The Republican Party generally goes with the establishment candidate -- somebody has run at least once before.
Romney is running away with the Congressional endorsement. He has 35 of them -- which is more than double the next highest, which is Rick Perry at 14. Romney has gotten Roy Blunt, the junior senator from Missouri, to be his eyes and ears in the Capitol.
"This is the same person that George W. Bush picked to be his eyes and ears 12 years ago when he ran for President," says Hawkings of Blunt. "It's definitely the insider game."
House Schedule for 2012
The House is planning to repeat the unusual schedule that they put out for this 2011, which is that they will almost always spend one week out of town for every two weeks they spend in town legislating. This is what majority leader Eric Cantor says the rank and file wants -- his stated reason is that it allows Congress to work more efficiently.
"The real reason, politically, is that members of Congress -- especially the 87 freshmen that Cantor is leading -- want to be home as much as possible getting to know their constituents, which means raising money and running for reelection," explains Hawkings.
It also means that the Senate and the House will not be here on many of the same weeks.
They're already announcing that there will be a lame duck session next year. It used to be up until the mid-'90s that Congress rarely met after an election, but that has become routine, and they will be back after the election at the end of next year.