Cain Mulling Future of Bid Charges ‘Character Assassination’
November 30, 2011, 10:20 PM EST
By Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Mark Niquette
(Updates with Cain comments from press conference, starting in sixth paragraph. For more 2012 campaign news, see ELECT.)
Nov. 30 (Bloomberg) — Herman Cain, working to keep his Republican presidential campaign alive after allegations of sexual indiscretions, implored voters not to give up on him in the face of what he said was a “character assassination” effort by opponents who fear his candidacy.
“They want you to believe that we can’t do this,” Cain said in a campaign speech today at a hotel in Dayton, Ohio. “They want you to believe that with enough character assassination on me, that I will drop out.”
Cain, who is denying an Atlanta woman’s claims to have carried on an extramarital affair with him during the last 13 years, said yesterday he was reassessing his campaign as a result of the story, which came to light about a month after four women alleged he sexually harassed them in the 1990s — charges he has also denied.
He repeated today in comments to reporters that “we’re reassessing and re-evaluating,” and said in a television interview that he would make a decision within days based on the emotional toll the charges were 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 on Fox News. He said he suspected Democrats had fabricated the allegations because they were “a little bit threatened” by his candidacy, adding, “my star was shining and rising too fast.”
Cain, 65, said during a televised press conference tonight at his headquarters in Manchester, 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 later this week.
Cain and his wife, Gloria, have been married for 43 years.
He also said he is evaluating the impact on his supporters and fundraising, which “went way down” after the affair allegation surfaced on Nov. 28 because “a lot of people were in doubt.” As the week has gone on, 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.
In public comments while campaigning across Ohio today, 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.”
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’s “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 yesterday 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, leveled by Ginger White in an interview with the Atlanta television station Fox 5 that aired Nov. 28, and said it nonetheless called for a “reassessment” of his bid. Still, Cain indicated 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 yesterday, 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 today 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 had accepted gifts of money from Cain for “the last two and one-half 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 yesterday, Cain described his tie 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.
–With assistance from Roger Runningen, Mark Silva and Laurie Asseo in Washington. Editors: Mark Silva, Don Frederick
To contact the reporters on this story: Julie Hirschfeld Davis in Washington at email@example.com; Mark Niquette in Columbus at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at email@example.com
Short URL: http://thepresidency.us/?p=1938