The multi-volume Herman Cain saga gets a brand new chapter as a Georgia woman claims their 13-year affair stretched into this year
Updated 6:33 p.m. A woman in Georgia told a local TV station in Atlanta Monday that she had a 13-year affair with presidential candidate Herman Cain that ended just eight months ago, right before he entered the Republican primary.
Ginger White, described as a "businesswoman" in the report by the Fox affiliate, supplied copies of her cell phone bills that showed 61 calls and texts over four months ending this September. When the station texted the number, Cain called back, according to the report.
White said she came forward because she was offended by the way Cain attempted to minimize and dismiss allegations of sexual harassment that have come to light over the last month. "It bothered me that they were demonized," she said.
White said she met Cain in the late 1990s when he was president of the National Restaurant Association and she liked a presentation he gave in Kentucky. She knew he was married, she said, but the affair "was fun. It was something that took me away from my humdrum life at the time." Cain, she said, flew her around and showered her with gifts.
In response to the story, Cain's lawyer, Lin Wood, issued a statement that was breathtaking in its avoidance of a direct denial of the affair: He noted that in this case, Cain was not accused of harassment or assault but of "private, alleged consensual conduct between adults," and contended that this is "not a proper subject of inquiry by the media or the public."
That was starkly different from the line Cain himself took a couple of hours before the story aired. Attempting to get out in front of the news in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Cain flatly denied the charge. He acknowledged knowing White, whom he characterized as an "acquaintance that I thought was a friend." But he said there was no affair.
Both Cain and his wife had the same reaction to the news, the candidate said: "Here we go again." He said he would not drop out because he could "take the lumps"; he said he was in it "for the grandchildren" -- his and everyone else's -- at whatever personal cost.
If you're keeping score at home, Cain now has five official "accusers": the two women to whom the restaurant association doled out five-figure payments to settle sexual harassment charges while he headed the group; another association staffer who told the Associated Press she was harassed but chose not to file a complaint; and Sharon Bialek, who worked for an affiliated organization and has alleged that Cain fondled her and tried to force her head into his lap.
Now, the multi-volume scandal surrounding Cain has another seamy chapter. And unlike the previous ones, it doesn't involve decade-old allegations.
For all the debate about Cain's damage control strategy -- has he been consistent enough, proactive enough, forthright enough to dispel the charges? -- it's the existence of this drip-drip-drip of further accusations, not his response to them, that's causing the damage.
Cain's candidacy looked to be quietly fizzling as conservative voters seized on a new potential favorite, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Cain still polls in the mid- to high teens nationally, putting him in third place in this extremely volatile Republican field. But the more time he spends in this unwelcome spotlight, the harder it gets for his defenders to stay loyal.