Herman Cain accused of 13-year affair with Atlanta woman
Businesswoman Ginger White appears on television to discuss 'inappropriate' affair with faltering presidential candiate
Embattled Republican candidate Herman Cain was caught up in fresh sex allegations on Monday when an Atlanta businesswoman claimed she had a 13-year affair with the former pizza magnate.
The woman, Ginger White, told a reporter from the local Fox affiliate station in Atlanta that she had been aware at the time he was married and that the relationship was "inappropriate".
White, an unemployed single mother, said the alleged affair had been "fun", taking her out of her humdrum life. She claimed she had some evidence to support her claim, including text messages sent late at night.
Cain, a surprise front-runner in the Republican race in October and early November, has steadily watched his poll ratings drop after three other women alleged sexual harassment. He is now lying in third place behind Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney in the polls.
The former pizza company chief executive from Atlanta pre-empted White's interview by telling CNN more than an hour before the Fox programme: "Here we go again."
Cain's lawyer, Lin Wood, issued a statement on his behalf, drawing a distinction beween this case and the earlier three women.
"This is not an accusation of harassment in the workplace – this is not an accusation of an assault - which are subject matters of legitimate inquiry to a political candidate. Rather, this 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," Wood said.
Given this, Wood said Cain felt no obligation to answer media questions. Wood's statement did not contain a denial.
The latest allegations are likely to speed up Cain's dropping poll figures. He acknowledged the falling numbers, but said he took comfort in the fact that he was not at the bottom of the pack.
Such is his popularity with Republicans that the air has been slowly seeping out of his campaign rather than suddenly deflating. In addition to the sex allegations, he has been damaged by a number of gaffes that displayed his ignorance of various foreign policy issues, particularly Libya.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has been the main beneficiary of his loss of support among conservatives, instead of other leading contender Mitt Romney.
The race begins in earnest on 3 January with the Iowa caucus. Cain insisted Monday he would not pull out before then. Iowa has a large percentage of Christian evangelicals who account for an estimated 40-60% of the likely caucus-goers, many of whom put a premium on strong marriage.
Some of his supporters expressed scepticism about the earlier allegations of sexual harassment, which Cain described as baseless, but White's television appearance without a corresponding Cain denial may hurt him among the Christian evangelicals.
White told Fox 5: "It was pretty simple. It wasn't complicated. I was aware that he was married. And I was also aware I was involved in a very inappropriate situation, relationship."
Cain's lawyer said he had alerted his wife Gloria. "He has no obligation to discuss these types of accusations publicly with the media and he will not do so even if his principled position is viewed unfavorably by members of the media," the lawyer said.
On CNN, Cain, speaking ahead of the Fox report, said: "This individual is going to accuse me of an affair for an extended period of time. It is someone that I know who is an acquaintance that I thought was a friend."
"That's all there is to the relationship," he said. Asked if it had been an affair, he replied: "No, it was not."
He added that he did not intend to drop out. "Not as long as my wife is behind me and as long as my wife believes I should stay in this race, I'm staying in this race."
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