Cain tells staff he's reassessing his campaign
By David Goldstein
November 29, 2011
WASHINGTON — Embattled presidential hopeful Herman Cain told his staff Tuesday that he was reassessing his campaign after allegations that he'd carried on a 13-year extramarital affair.
Cain, one of the top-tier Republican contenders in the 2012 field, repeated his denials from Monday, when Ginger White, an unemployed single mother from Atlanta, leveled the claim in a televised interview with Atlanta's Fox station WAGA.
"I deny those charges, unequivocally," Cain told his campaign staff, according to a transcript of the call, first reported by National Review Online. "That being said, obviously this is a cause for reassessment. ... We have to do a reassessment as to whether or not this is going to create too much of a cloud, in some people's minds, as to whether or not they would be able to support us going forth."
Cain is also the subject of earlier allegations that he'd sexually harassed several women in the 1990s while he was the head of the National Restaurant Association. He's denied those as well.
White's allegations Monday have added to the obstacles confronting his presidential effort, which were nowhere in sight a few weeks ago when his campaign suddenly soared.
Cain drew only 6 percent in a CNN national poll of Republican voters in early September. By mid-October, support for the charismatic former Godfather's Pizza chief executive had vaulted to 25 percent, putting him into a dead heat with front-runner Mitt Romney, a former Massachusetts governor.
Cain's backing dipped to 14 percent earlier this month after the sexual harassment claims emerged. But he remains in a four-way tie in Iowa with Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, according to a recent Bloomberg News poll.
"He still has levels of support," said Republican pollster David Winston, a longtime ally of Gingrich. "There are all these accusations out there. I think what you're seeing the public doing in response is taking them seriously. It's also waiting for proof."
The tolerance of Republican voters could be tested, however. The first ballots to be cast in the presidential race will be Jan. 3 in Iowa. But if Cain's image becomes one of a lightning rod for trouble, he might not last that long.