Anita Hill, the former U.S. Department of Education employee who was launched into the spotlight in 1991 when she brought forth sexual harassment allegations against then-Supreme Court Justice nominee Clarence Thomas, recently gave some insight into the current claims against GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain.
Here's Time's transcript of their conversation with Hill, now a professor at Brandeis University, for part of their Person of the Year event:
RICHARD STENGEL: We're right now, in the middle of a Republican campaign and there’s a candidate, Herman Cain, who is going through something like what happened to you in 1991. I wondered whether you have any thoughts about how all that will affect the campaign, any thoughts in particular about what’s happening to Mr. Cain right now.
ANITA HILL: You know I've been for the last few weeks on a book tour. I have no comment on Herman Cain.
STENGEL: It will help sell your book
HILL: No it won't. The book is not about Herman Cain.
People believe I follow politics more closely than I actually do follow politics. I'll simply say there are some serious issues out there and we all know what they are, and I think any one of us could speculate about what the outcome would be, but none of us know.
BELINDA LUSCOMBE: I know you said you're not talking about Herman Cain but, you must be gratified that the reactions to the accusations are very different than the reactions from your experience.
HILL: Yeah. Twenty years ago the conversation was entirely different, I mean we all know that. But it has evolved, in the past 20 years, to where we are today. And that's, you know, that’s a good thing.
Yes, we have evolved tremendously in discussing these kinds of issues and in one way, in some ways it's just not simply the description of sort of he said/she said, just sort of throwing that out as a way to explain everything, no longer exists. I mean there is some deliberate inquiry and that's what I think should continue to happen.
Hill came up on Cain's campaign trail earlier this week, when a supporter threw out a joke about her coming forward to enter the fray in the story that has managed to dictate the coverage of his candidacy of late. "Is she going to endorse me?" Cain responded.
Cain later clarified that it "was no way intended to be an insult to Anita Hill or anybody else," but GOP rival Newt Gingrich, who surged past Cain in a poll released Friday, warned him against treating the whole ordeal so lightly.
"I think if you look at the concerns we have about issues like sexual harassment, if you look at the tragedy at Penn State, if you look at how people feel in general about this kind of stuff, it's not something to be joked about," said Gingrich, according to Politico. He added that Cain "may well be innocent...but these are not things, I think, that you joke about."
The former Godfather's Pizza CEO didn't help repair his image with women earlier this week when he referred to former Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as "Princess Nancy." A recent poll also showed that his support among women voters has fallen greatly since the story about his alleged sexual harassment broke.