By Carol Cain
Senior Producer and Host
WWJ-TV CBS Detroit’s “Michigan Matters”
Shame on the media for harping on the Herman Cain story of sexual harassment allegations stemming from his time as head of a national restaurant association. They ought to be downright embarrassed, Newt Gingrich, outspoken former Speaker of the House and GOP candidate, told me during a conversation in advance of a GOP debate in Metro Detroit on Wednesday.
“This tells you more about the Washington press corps and media preferring gossip to public policy. They need to get back to 9-9-9 (Cain’s tax proposal),” he added.
Gingrich, whose ranking among GOP contenders has slowly risen with each debate, is preparing for a two-candidate conversation with Cain on Saturday in Houston, Texas. Cain, former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, was head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s. Recent media reports talked of former association employees and allegations of sexual harassment. He has denied the allegations, saying settlements were reached with two employees.
Likely, the topic won’t come up during the Saturday conversation between Cain and Gingrich. But, you can bet it will be hot fodder on Wednesday when Gingrich, Cain, former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and others gather in Metro Detroit for a GOP debate on the economy and jobs. As is the case with presidential debates, it will be talk of character and missteps that makes for riveting soundbites resonating from it.
“These are often more like a game show than something of substance,” Gingrich lamented. He added the debates were a necessary part of the process. He just wishes they were more like debates of old. He mentioned Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas who debated in seven countries over a several month period in 1858. There was no moderator and they just talked issues.
As he has done with Cain, Gingrich said he would love to debate Romney, who was born in Detroit and is son of the late Michigan Gov. George Romney, in a three-hour conversation, no moderator, just a timekeeper. Wednesday’s debate in Metro Detroit is being hosted by the Michigan Republican Party and Oakland University and will air on CNBC. It will resonate as Michigan has lost thousands of good paying jobs in recent years.
Gingrich the next Ashton Kutcher?
One thing that Gingrich has been doing is embracing social media. He could be dubbed the ‘Ashton Kutcher’ of presidential candidates as his presence on the web and among tweeters reigns supreme.
“I have an Internet following four times bigger than any other GOP candidate. And I have more twitter followers than MSNBC has viewers,” Gingrich bragged. Through it and debates, Gingrich is optimistic. He’s already talking about the general election and said he would challenge Barack Obama to seven three-hour debates, “With no moderator but with a timekeeper. And he can use a teleprompter if he wants to.” “We will smoke him out,” Gingrich said of Obama.
Carol Cain is the Emmy winning Senior Producer and host of WWJ-TV CBS Detroit’s “Michigan Matters” which airs 11 am Sundays. You can read her columns on politics and business in Sunday’s Detroit Free Press. You can reach her at 248-355-7126 or via email.