The drain on Herman Cain

You can be forgiven if you think U.S. Republican politics is a bit like a ferris wheel - one candidate's up, then they're down. From Michelle Bachmann to Rick Perry to Newt Gingrich ... what seems like an anybody-but-Mitt Romney mentality persists. Which brings us to Herman Cain. Right-wing, African-American, very blunt, prone to blunders and not a day of elected political experience on his record. So what does the Cain candidacy tell us about U.S. politics?

Part Three of The Current

The drain on Herman Cain - Emily Schultheis

For more than two weeks, Herman Cain has denied, remembered, avoided and disdained accusations of sexual harassment. Polls suggest the U.S. presidential hopeful is losing support, particularly among female Republican voters. Four women accuse Mr.Cain of incidents of sexual harassment committed when he was head of the U.S. National Restaurant Association a decade ago. Mr. Cain really doesn't want to talk about it, but the questions keep coming.

Last Wednesday, CNBC's Maria Bartiromo tried to ask a few at a candidates' debate at Oakland University.

To help us understand this highly unusual candidate and his highly unusual campaign, we were joined by Emily Schultheis. She's a reporter with, the news website that first broke the story of the allegations against Herman Cain. Emily Schultheis was in Washington.

The drain on Herman Cain - Jamelle Bouie / Armstrong Williams

The sexual harassment allegations may start the argument among Americans, but other issues often quickly enter the discussion: race relations, the role of the media in American politics, and the quality of the country's political institutions.

For their thoughts on the meaning of these conversations, we were joined by two people. Jamelle Bouie is a writing fellow with The American Prospect, a liberal magazine based in Washington. And Armstrong Williams is a conservative writer and commentator. They were both in Washington.

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