Anita Hill refused to comment directly on the Herman Cain sexual harassment charges but said she felt “gratified” that a more mature discussion about the issue could take place in 2011.
Speaking as a member of Time magazine’s Person of the Year panel earlier this week, Hill was asked if she had any thoughts on the Cain scandal.
But the moderator pushed for a comment, saying it might help her sell more copies of her book.
“No, it won’t,” she said. “This book is not about Herman Cain.”
Hill, currently a professor at Brandeis University, did have something to say about how the conversation around sexual harassment has changed in the 20 years since was the media focus over her allegations against then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.
“Twenty years ago the conversation was entirely different, I mean we all know that,” she said. “But it has evolved, in the past 20 years, to where we are today.”
“We have evolved tremendously in discussing these kinds of issues,” she added. “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.”
On Thursday, a Fox News camera caught Cain joking about the sexual harassment allegations against him at an event in Kalamazoo, Mich.
A clip that first aired on "Special Report With Bret Baeir" shows Cain in the middle of a raucous crowd of supporters when someone mades a comment about Hill. The substance of the comment was drowned out by applause in the room, but it had the candidate doubled over with laughter.
“Is she going to endorse me?” Cain asked, smiling.
In 1991, Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment, and Cain has at times compared the allegations to his own situation.
Cain has been under fire for the comment but hasn’t apologized. Cain's friend and GOP presidential rival Newt Gingrich on Friday said this "is not something to be joked about."
“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,” he said on the Laura Ingraham show on Friday.
Earlier on Friday, Cain defended the comment, saying he gave a “humorous response” to a question that was asked in “a humorous way,” and that he didn’t mean it as an insult to Anita Hill.
Cain also came under fire this week for referring to Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as “Princess Nancy.” Cain apologized for that remark.
While the sexual harassment charges haven’t hurt his fundraising, Cain is starting to see his support from women erode in the polls.
According to the latest CBS News poll, Cain has the support of 15 percent of women Republican primary voters, down from 28 percent last month.
In addition, 30 percent of likely Republican primary voters say the sexual harassment charges will make them less likely to back Cain; that number rises to 38 percent among women.