Memo to Herman: The Rules of Engagement Have Changed!

To say it’s been a difficult two weeks for Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain would be a gross understatement.

We haven’t seen a presidential primary media scrum like this since Bill Clinton in 1992 and Gary Hart in 1988 – long before social media, Twitter, or even cable news channels, for that matter.

The rules of engagement have changed completely, though Cain seems to have missed the memo.

And so with each new revelation and allegation of inappropriate conduct, the escape velocity needed for Cain to refocus the narrative from his alleged misconduct to policy becomes that much more difficult. The scandal has entered the feeding frenzy stage, and once that happens there’s no telling where it will ultimately end.

Herman Cain is learning a tough lesson: once you lose control of the story, it’s difficult to get it back. To that end, the old maxim has never been more true: it’s the cover-up, not the underlying action, that spells trouble.

Evidently, he’s holding a press conference later today. Perhaps he’s going to try to exhaust the press by answering every last question, similar to what others have done after stonewalling for weeks.

It hasn’t worked before, and it likely won’t work for Cain, either. The story is now beyond his control.

Nick is Partner and Director of Ketchum’s Washington Office. Nick specializes in public affairs, corporate, issues management or media relations questions. Follow Nick on twitter @nickragone2.