Herman Cain, reassessing his Republican presidential bid as he denies allegations of sexual indiscretions, told a New Hampshire newspaper today that ending his campaign is “an option” he is considering.
Cain’s acknowledged in an interview with the editorial board of the Union Leader in Manchester that he is weighing an exit from the race. That is in contrast to his message to voters yesterday, when he implored supporters in Ohio and New Hampshire not to give up on him amid what he said is a campaign of “character assassination” by opponents who fear his candidacy.
“They want you to believe that we can’t do this,” Cain said in a speech yesterday at a hotel in Dayton, Ohio. “They want you to believe that, with enough character assassination on me, that I will drop out.”
Cain told the Union Leader today that his wife of 43 years, Gloria, didn’t know that he repeatedly gave Ginger White -- the Atlanta woman who says she had a long affair with him -- money for “month-to-month bills and expenses,” and that she “did not know that we were friends,” until White went public with her story Nov. 28.
Cain, who denies White’s claims that they carried on an extramarital affair during the last 13 years, said on Nov. 29 he was reassessing his campaign as a result of the story. It came to light about a month after four women alleged he sexually harassed them in the 1990s -- charges he has also denied.
He has said he will make a decision within days based on the emotional toll the charges are taking on his family and their effect on his donors and supporters.
“The e-mails have been just overwhelming in terms of encouragement to stay, but I’ve got to think about my family first,” Cain said in an interview yesterday on Fox News. He said he suspected Democrats had fabricated the allegations because they were “a little bit threatened” by his candidacy. “My star was shining and rising too fast.”
Cain, 65, said at a televised press conference last night at his headquarters in New Hampshire that he hasn’t had an opportunity to sit down with his wife and other family members to “walk through this.” He said he plans to do so tomorrow.
Fundraising “went way down” after the affair allegation surfaced because “a lot of people were in doubt,” Cain said. Later in the week fundraising improved, Cain said.
“It’s not up to the level where it was, but a lot of people are saying, you know what, they don’t believe it,” he said.
Even as Cain spoke of a potential withdrawal from the race, his campaign gave the impression it was ratcheting up its efforts. It said it was releasing a new advertisement in Iowa, where the caucuses kick off the Republican nominating process on Jan. 3, and circulated an e-mail to supporters asking for volunteers to travel to early-voting states and “help Herman Cain win the Republican nomination.”
While campaigning in Ohio yesterday, Cain voiced confidence in a campaign powered by popular support.
“The establishment does not want Herman Cain to get this nomination,” he said in Dayton. “The liberals do not want Herman Cain to get this nomination. But I happen to believe that the American people have a different idea.”
Tea Party Backer
Rob Scott, president and founder of the Dayton Tea Party, noted that Bill Clinton faced infidelity accusations when he ran for president in 1992. As for the allegations against Cain, “only Herman Cain, God and those women” know for certain whether they are true, Scott said.
“Regardless, I think he can move past it,” said Scott, 29, an attorney from Kettering, Ohio. “When you’re going through difficult times, you go to your base, and we’re his base.”
Sarah Clark, 35, of Xenia, Ohio, brought her 9-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son to Cain’s speech in Dayton and said she likes him because he is “not a politician.” Clark said in an interview she doesn’t believe the allegations are true, and if they are proven, “It would bother me somewhat morally, but I’m not sure it would make me not vote for him.”
Cain, a former Godfather’s Pizza chief executive, told aides in a conference call Nov. 29 that he would decide over the next several days whether to continue his campaign.
One aide who participated said Cain began the call by denying the allegation of an affair, and said it nonetheless called for a “reassessment” of his bid. The candidate indicated at the time that the campaign would go forward, said the aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid publicly describing internal discussions.
In a fundraising letter Cain sent out Nov. 29, he referred to White as “a troubled Atlanta businesswoman” who “used national media outlets to promulgate a fabricated, unsubstantiated story” that they had an affair. “I am writing you today to assure you that this woman’s story is completely false,” he said.
“I am not deterred,” he said in the letter. “We will continue on this journey to make America great once again.”
In an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” White described the relationship as “on and off,” and said it began when she was single.
“It was a very casual affair,” she said. “Am I proud to admit to that? No, I am not.” She said she went on “several trips with him,” including to a Mike Tyson boxing match in Las Vegas.
White, who has acknowledged having financial difficulties, said that she accepted gifts of money from Cain for “the last 2 1/2 years” and that he didn’t ask for anything in return.
White said in her Fox 5 television interview that Cain had treated her to lavish meals and stays at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Atlanta’s Buckhead district during an affair that began after the two met in Louisville, Kentucky, in the late 1990s and ended only eight months ago.
During his call with staff on Nov. 29, Cain described his ties to White as “just a friendship relationship,” and he has said he was only trying to help her financially.
Once vying for front-runner status in the Republican race, Cain slipped to third place in a national poll released last week by Quinnipiac University. The poll showed Cain with 14 percent of the vote, trailing former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
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