An Atlanta woman says she had a 13-year extramarital affair with Herman Cain, a claim the Republican presidential contender denies and says won’t drive him from the race for his party’s nomination.
Ginger White said in an interview broadcast yesterday on Fox 5 in Atlanta that Cain treated her to lavish meals and stays at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in the city’s Buckhead district, during an on-and-off affair that began when the two met in Louisville, Kentucky, in the late 1990s and ended only eight months ago.
“It wasn’t complicated, and I was aware that he was married, and I was also aware that I was involved in a very inappropriate situation, relationship,” White said in the television interview.
Cain “made it very intriguing,” she said. “It was fun. It was something that took me away from my sort of humdrum life at the time, and it was exciting.”
White said that, while she had been reluctant to reveal the affair, Cain’s indignant denials of recent sexual harassment allegations against him by four other women persuaded her to go public.
“It bothered me that they were being demonized,” White said of the women -- two of whom have identified themselves and two of whom remain anonymous. They alleged sexual advances during Cain’s stint as head of the Washington-based National Restaurant Association. “They were being treated as if they were automatically lying and the burden of proof was on them.”
Cain, 65, appeared on CNN yesterday to deny White’s accusation before the interview aired, saying that, though he knew her, he hadn’t had a sexual relationship with her and didn’t intend to drop out of the presidential race based on her story.
His Atlanta-based attorney, Lin Wood, said in a statement to Fox 5 that White’s account “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.”
Cain’s campaign issued a statement after the station’s report that said: “Detractors are trying once again to derail the Cain Train with more accusations of past events that never happened. The Cain campaign is not surprised that another female accuser has come forward due to the fact that earlier allegations were unable to force Herman Cain to drop his presidential bid to renew America.”
Cain, a former Godfather’s Pizza chief executive, said in the statement that Americans are “tired of dirty politics and smear tactics as evident of their tremendous outpouring of support for me, my family and my campaign this past month.”
He said he wouldn’t “fight false claims as it is not what America needs or wants.”
Cain told CNN his relationship with White was as “a friend, and trying to help a friend because of not having a job.”
He said he was “more worried that this is going to hurt my wife and my family” than he was about the story’s possible effect on his presidential prospects.
“I can’t control people who are going to make a decision based on accusations,” Cain said.
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 House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
Support for Cain has been eroding over the last month since the sexual harassment allegations surfaced.
Cain has been married to his wife, Gloria, for 43 years. In an interview with Fox News after the harassment charges emerged about a month ago, Gloria Cain said she didn’t think her husband was capable of such behavior.
“I seriously, in my soul, don’t think he’s that type of person,” Cain said. While saying “there have been troubles” in the Cains’ marriage, she added, “we have loved each other for 43 years.”
White, who gave Fox 5 evidence of extensive correspondence with Cain including 61 text messages to her cellular telephone during four different months, said Cain never harassed or mistreated her and behaved much like he comes across on the campaign trail.
Cain was “very much confident, very much sure of himself, very arrogant in a playful -- sometimes -- kind of way, very ‘Herman Cain loves Herman Cain,’” White said.
White settled a sexual harassment claim against a former employer in 2001 and has had financial and legal troubles, including a bankruptcy filing, several eviction notices and a libel conviction, Fox 5 reported. Still, she said she had no reason to make up a false accusation against Cain.
“It would make no sense for me to come out with these allegations against Herman if it absolutely wasn’t true,” White said. “I wanted to give my side before it was thrown out there and made out to be something filthy. Some people will look at this and say that is exactly what it is. I’m sorry for that.”
Cain said he discussed the most recent accusations with his wife and his conscience was clear. “Her reaction was very similar to mine: ‘Here we go again,’” Cain told CNN. He said he planned a “nice steak dinner” last night, because he has “done nothing wrong.”
Gingrich, appearing on CNN yesterday, said the latest allegation is “something that Mr. Cain will have to settle with the country.”