(Photo: REUTERS/Joshua Lott)
Allegations of a 13-year extramarital affair threaten GOP candidate Herman Cain’s campaign just as it attempted a comeback from sexual harassment allegations.
Atlanta, Ga., resident Ginger White, 45, came out to local affiliate WAGA FOX 5 about her relationship with Cain after several media outlets began contacting her. Now the Des Moines Register is reporting that Cain may be on the verge of withdrawing from the 2012 race.
White told reporters that the affair began at a National Restaurant Association conference in Kentucky in the late 1990s. Cain invited her out for drinks and later up to his hotel room. White said he told her, “I would like to definitely see you again. You are very beautiful to me and I would love for us to … continue this friendship.”
The friendship, which she said was “physical” up until eight months ago when he announced his candidacy, continued off and on over a 13-year period. She met him in lavish hotels such as the Ritz Carlton in Buckhead and flew her out to see him in cities where he had speaking engagements. She said he gave her autographed books, lavish gifts and kept things fun and interesting.
When asked to respond to the controversy, Cain's spokesperson, J. D. Gordon, texted, "We are looking forward to get back on message with a major foreign policy and national security speech tonight in Michigan."
The Register, meanwhile, reported Tuesday morning that Cain “told his campaign staff today that he needs to decide whether an accusation of a 13-year affair with an Atlanta woman will create ‘too much of a cloud’ for his supporters” though Gordon told CP that supporters are still standing behind the campaign.
White’s story creates another trap for Cain’s campaign just as sexual harassment accusations that began in October were dying down. Just as in the sexual harassment scandal, Cain and the campaign have said different things, giving the story legs in the media.
When Politico revealed that a woman had filed sexual harassment claims, Cain addressed reporters at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. He responded, “I have never sexually harassed anyone” and that he was “unaware of any sort of settlement.”
Cain then publicly acknowledged a settlement with Fox News Host Greta Van Susteren and said his accuser may be upset because he compared her to his wife of 43 years, Gloria.
The retelling prompted the unveiling of details from four different women, including Sharon Bailek. Bailek told reporters in a press conference that Cain groped her and “grabbed my head and brought it towards his crotch,” saying “'You want a job, right?'”
Cain’s lawyer, Lin Wood, tried to quiet the story, saying, “This appears to be an accusation of private alleged consensual conduct between adults … Mr. Cain has alerted his wife to this new accusation and discussed it with her. He has no obligation to discuss these types of accusations publicly with the media.”
Against the advice, Cain further denounced White’s story in a Monday CNN interview as “false accusations that cannot be proved.”
White has a libel claim lodged against her by a former business partner. She, however, insisted that she was telling the truth and turned over to FOX 5 proof of her claim – four months’ worth phone bills showing 61 recorded phone calls and texts from a number purported to be Cain’s personal cell phone. When FOX 5 reporters sent a text to the number, Cain himself called back.
Cain then told FOX 5 he knew White as an acquaintance and was “trying to help her out financially.”
White, a single mother of two children, acknowledged being unemployed. Additionally, a background check revealed that she had been served eviction notices by her apartment complex several times including one this month.
However, the phone bill revealed that Cain called White “as early as 4:26 in the early morning, and as late as 7:52 at night.”
White also said, “I can't imagine someone phoning or texting me for the last two and a half years, just because.”
Cain’s poll numbers has dropped from first in the polls to now third behind Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney since the sexual harassment scandal.
The former Godfather’s Pizza CEO seemed undaunted Monday despite the possibility that his poll numbers will drop again.
He told CNN, “As long as my wife is behind me and as long as my wife believes that I should stay in this race, I’m staying in this race.”
Now a transcript from National Review Online reveals that Cain told his campaign in a conference call, “This is cause for reassessment.”
He continued, “As you know, during the summer we had to make some reassessments based upon our financial situation. We were able to hang in there; we reassessed the situation and kept on going. We also did a reassessment after the Iowa straw poll and we made another reassessment after the Florida straw poll. When the previous two accusations, false accusations, came about, we made another assessment. The way we handled those was, we continued on with our schedule. We made an assessment about what was going to happen to our support. But our supporters, and even some folks that we didn’t have as supporters, they stood with us, and they showed it not only in terms of their verbal support, they showed it in terms of their dollars.”
“Now, with this latest one, we have to do an assessment as to whether or not this is going to create too much of a cloud, in some people’s minds, as to whether or not they would be able to support us going forth.”
Cain indicated in the call that he will continue with engagements scheduled for tomorrow and “the next several days” while gaging the response from his supporters. But he also indicated that the stories have taken a toll on his wife and family.