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US presidential hopeful Cain is hit by sex claims

AMERICAN presidential candidate Herman Cain's campaign has denied allegations that he was twice accused of sexual harassment while he was the head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s.

The Republican candidate's team yesterday disputed a Politico report that said Cain had been accused of sexually suggestive behaviour toward at least two female employees.

Cain -- a self-styled outsider relatively new to the national stage -- is facing a new level of scrutiny after a burst of momentum in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

He's been steadily at or near the top of polls, competitive with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

The report said the women signed agreements with the restaurant group that gave them five-figure payouts to leave the association and barred them from discussing it. Neither woman was identified.



Pizza

The report was based on anonymous sources and, in one case, what the publication said was a review of documentation that described the allegations and the resolution.

Cain's campaign said that the allegations were not true, and amounted to unfair attacks.

"Inside-the-Beltway media have begun to launch unsubstantiated personal attacks on Cain," spokesman JD Gordon said in a written statement.

"Dredging up thinly sourced allegations stemming from Mr Cain's tenure as the Chief Executive Officer at the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, political trade press are now casting aspersions on his character and spreading rumours that never stood up to the facts."

Asked if he was denying the report, Mr Gordon said, "Yes."

"These are baseless allegations," Mr Gordon said in a second interview later yesterday evening. "To my knowledge, this is not an accurate story."

Cain plans to continue with several planned appearances in Washington today. He is slated to discuss his tax plan at the American Enterprise Institute, appear at the National Press Club and hold a healthcare briefing on Capitol Hill.

The former pizza company executive has been pointing to his long record in business to argue that he has the credentials needed to be president during a time of economic strife.

A message seeking comment from Peter Kilgore, listed on the National Restaurant Association website as its chief legal counsel, was not returned.

hnews@herald.ie