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Two Herman Cain Rivals Find Allegations Distracting

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo

Officeholders and candidates across the political spectrum weighed in today on the sexual harassment allegations against 2012 Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain.

Two GOP presidential candidates whose fortunes might rest on how the issue plays out tried to direct the conversation to policy when pressed on the matter.

“I think the media blew this way out of proportion,” Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“I think there are a thousand stories out on there, and I think that dilutes the real debates because his views on foreign policy, for instance, are dramatically different than mine,” he said.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Hunstman also addressed the topic, calling Cain a “decent, decent man and a good candidate.” However, he urged Cain “to get the information out and get it out in total.”

Like Paul, he worried about the allegations becoming a distraction. “We’ve got some real issues to discuss in this campaign, and this is taking all of the bandwidth out of the discussion.”

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), who challenged another one of Cain’s 2012 opponents in a gubernatorial race last year, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that, so far, the allegations against Cain have not disturbed her.

“I just don’t see anonymous sources as fair against a candidate. I think if someone has a real concern, they should come out and say it,” said Hutchison, who lost to Texas Gov. Rick Perry by more than 20 points in the Republican gubernatorial primary in 2010.

Hutchison said she would “stand firmly against” behavior “that’s really sexual harassment,” but so far she has only seen indications of “off-color remarks” from Cain.

“But nothing that I’ve heard in the press that I have read is [anything] other than off-color remarks, which, you know, I think that he paid a price for that, as maybe he should,” she said.

She blamed his opponents for “trying to dredge things up” and concluded, “Until something comes out that’s concrete, I think it is politics as usual.”

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