by Shannon McCaffrey
ATLANTA (AP)—Conservatives rallied around Herman Cain as he battles sexual harassment allegations, likening the attacks on the Republican presidential contender to what they describe as the “high-tech lynching” of another prominent Black Republican: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
The forceful early reaction to the Cain firestorm—fueled by racially charged rhetoric—suggests the Georgia businessman’s attempt to cast himself as a victim of the media and liberals is, so far, paying dividends among his conservative Republican base, who will hold considerable sway in selecting the party’s nominee. But the accusations against Cain, an untested newcomer on the political scene, may give more moderate GOP voters pause and could cause would-be donors to shy away even as Cain works to capitalize on his rising poll numbers.
With the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucus less than three months away, the harassment allegations—and Cain’s response to them—have the potential to reshuffle the GOP race.
So far, the early cry from the right is to support Cain using a race-based defense and familiar targets. Becoming a target of the left and the media could bolster Cain’s support among those who view those groups with disdain.
“I think the left is totally and completely terrified of a conservative Black man coming to power and prominence,” said Debbie Dooley, a leader of Atlanta Tea Party Patriots. “They are trying to do the same thing to him that they did with Clarence Thomas.”
It was a view that echoed loudly across talk radio and the Internet as conservative pundits weighed in.
“It’s outrageous the way liberals treat a Black conservative,” fumed pundit Ann Coulter.
Radio show host Rush Limbaugh lashed out at the mainstream media for pursuing “the ugliest racial stereotypes they can to attack a Black conservative.”