Amid fresh allegations of an extramarital affair, Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain says he’s a victim of “character assassination.”
He told a group of supporters in Cincinnati Nov. 30 that “They’ve been trying to do character assassination on me.”
“They’re attacking my character, my reputation and my name in order to try and bring me down, but you see I don’t believe that America is going to let that happen,” Cain said. “I happen to believe that we the people are still in charge of this country.”
But cracks are emerging in the former Godfather Pizza CEO’s outward show of optimism.
When later asked by reporters if he would remain in the GOP race for the White House, he said he is “reassessing his campaign.”
This comes just days after a Georgia woman went public alleging she had been intimate with the former businessman for 13 years.
In an interview with Fox 5 Atlanta, Ginger White said the affair continued until Cain announced his candidacy for president.
“It was fun,” White, 46, said, referring to her trip with Cain in Palm Springs.”It was something that took me away from my sort of humdrum life at the time. And it was exciting.”
Cain appeared on talk shows denying the affair even before White’s interview aired.
“I didn’t do anything wrong,” he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, claiming only a platonic relationship with the woman.
He added that he was more worried about how the allegations would hurt his family than if they would taint his campaign.
Yet his denial noticeably differed from the statement issued by his attorney.
“This appears to be an accusation of private, alleged consensual conduct between adults — a subject matter which is not a proper subject of inquiry by the media or the public,” said Lin Wood, a lawyer Cain hired to handle his sexual harassment accusations. “No individual, whether a private citizen, a candidate for public office or a public official, should be questioned about his or her private sexual life.”
Cain’s newest accuser said she met him after a business meeting in the late 1990s while he was president of the NRA.
According to her account of their first meeting, Cain said, “You’re beautiful to me and I would love for us to continue this friendship,” then scheduled a time for them to meet in Palm Springs.
White shared cell phone records which indicated repeated contact between her and a number she said belongs to the presidential hopeful.
The reporter at the Fox affiliate in Atlanta sent a text message to the number and Cain called back, contending that he knew White, but only as a friend.
White says she came forward because her name was already circulating over reporters’ desks and she wanted to be the first to tell her story.
“I’m not proud. I didn’t want to come out with this. I did not,” she said.
According to a reporter that interviewed White, she is an unemployed, single mother of two.
She’s also faced lawsuits including civil actions for unpaid rent and a libel dispute with a former business partner.
News of the alleged affair came as the businessman tried to recoup from accusations that he sexually harassed several former female colleagues.
In total, four women claim Cain sexually harassed or groped them when he was president of the National Restaurant Association in the mid- to late 1990s. Adding what one might call more credence to the claims, the trade group paid settlements to two of the women.
Just prior to this string of allegations, Cain captured the attention of conservative Republicans and soared to the top of the polls pushing his memorable 9-9-9 tax plan.
But the claims have seemingly dogged his candidacy over the last month. Public opinion polls and his fundraising have begun to tumble.
In CNN’s latest poll, he fell to 17 percent, compared with 24 percent for Newt Gingrich and 20 percent for Mitt Romney.