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Cain Says Ending Presidential Campaign Is ‘Option’ He’s Weighing

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Dec. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Herman Cain told a New Hampshire newspaper that ending his Republican presidential campaign is “an option” he is considering, as he continued to face questions about the latest allegation of sexual indiscretion lodged against him.

Cain said in an interview yesterday with the editorial board of the Union Leader in Manchester that he is weighing an exit from the race.

“You will know by next week,” he told journalists at the largest newspaper in the state where the nation’s first primary will be held Jan. 10.

As Cain spoke of possibly withdrawing from the race, though, his campaign gave the impression it was intensifying its efforts. It announced the release of a new advertisement in Iowa, where caucuses start the Republican nominating process on Jan. 3, and circulated an e-mail to supporters asking for volunteers to travel to early-voting states to “help Herman Cain win the Republican nomination.”

Cain, 65, told the Union Leader that his wife of 43 years, Gloria, didn’t know that he repeatedly gave money to the Atlanta woman who says they had a 13-year affair. The money was for “month-to-month bills and expenses,” said Cain, who has denied that he was sexually involved with the woman, Ginger White.

Wife Didn’t Know

He also said in yesterday’s interview that his wife “did not know” that he and White “were friends” until the woman went public with her story on Nov. 28.

Cain said at a televised press conference Nov. 30 at his headquarters in New Hampshire that he hadn’t had an opportunity to sit down with his wife and other family members to “walk through this,” and said he planned to do so today.

White, in a television interview with Atlanta’s Fox 5 in which she first publicly aired her allegation, said their affair began after the two met in Louisville, Kentucky, in the late 1990s and ended only eight months ago. Her story surfaced about a month after four women alleged he sexually harassed them in the 1990s -- charges he also has denied.

White showed reporters phone bills listing dozens of calls and text messages from Cain’s private cell phone number.

Cain said in yesterday’s interview that about 70 of those text messages involved White asking him for financial assistance with her rent and other bills.

Job Question

“I would respond, well, how much and what are you doing about getting a job,” he said.

Cain said he sent her money, though he wouldn’t detail the payments on the advice of his lawyer. “I’m a soft-hearted person when it comes to that kind of stuff,” he said.

White in her Fox 5 television interview said Cain had treated her to lavish meals and stays at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Atlanta’s Buckhead district. In a later interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America, she said the two went on “several trips,” including to a Mike Tyson boxing match in Las Vegas.

White, who has acknowledged having financial difficulties, said she accepted gifts of money from Cain for “the last 2 1/2 years,” and that he didn’t ask for anything in return.

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.

Fundraising Swings

Fundraising dropped after the affair allegation surfaced, Cain said, as donors decided he would be unable to win the nomination.

“They see this cloud not going away,” he told the Union-Leader.

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.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Lisa Lerer in Washington at llerer@bloomberg.net; Julie Hirschfeld Davis in Washington at jdavis159@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net

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