**See updates below**
An Atlanta television station is preparing to air a report in which a woman accuses presidential candidate Herman Cain of carrying on an extramarital affair with her for 13 years. Cain broke the news himself in a 'prebuttal' interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer moments ago. "Here we go again," he sighed. A quick summary of his assertions:
- There was no affair, and there will be no proof of an affair. Under questioning from Blitzer, Cain said there was no sex.
- He knew the woman in question for a number of years.
- He is increasingly worried about how this deluge of allegations may affect his family, not just his campaign.
- An "infinite number" of future accusers could still come forward.
- Race "could be" a factor in some of these accusations.
- He has nothing to hide. He said this accuser is -- or was -- "a friend" whom he helped when she was unemployed.
- He is not dropping out of the race.
- He plans on enjoying a "steak dinner" tonight, saying if you've done "nothing wrong," there's no cause for angst.
At one point in the interview (video available here), Cain said he's confident evidence will prove this is "probably something else that is baseless." That "probably" set off a mini-storm on Twitter, but Cain's confident follow-up that there would be no evidence backing up this woman's story put that to rest. Stay tuned, the story is dropping at 6pm tonight. If this is more he said/she said innuendo, voters will quickly tune it out. If there's incriminating evidence, however, Cain is finished because his personal credibility would be shattered. I'll say this: Cain performed very, very well in this interview. He seemed at ease and fluid. Getting out in front of this new wrinkle also marks a major improvement over his campaign's previous mishandling of similar crises.
UPDATE - Early details emerge:
Cain's attorney has released a statement, which doesn't exactly scream "my client is innocent." It's more like, "mind your own damn business, media:
"Mr. Cain has been informed today that your television station plans to broadcast a story this evening in which a female will make an accusation that she engaged in a 13-year long physical relationship with Mr. Cain. 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. No individual, whether a private citizen, a candidate for public office or a public official, should be questioned about his or her private sexual life. The public's right to know and the media's right to report has boundaries and most certainly those boundaries end outside of one's bedroom door.
Mr. Cain has alerted his wife to this new accusation and discussed it with her. 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."
Okay, but Cain just went on national television to talk about these accusations. The "respect our privacy" defense isn't going to fly, especially when Cain's supposed sexual partner has chosen to tell her story on television. Were Cain and his attorney not on the same page?
UPDATE II - Is this really just a private matter?
UPDATE III - Cain's denials on CNN:
UPDATE IV - More details:
Ginger White says she met Herman Cain in the late 90s in Louisville, Kentucky, when as president of the National Restaurant Association, he made a presentation. She was impressed. She says they shared drinks afterwards and he invited her back to his hotel room. “’I'd like to see you again,’” White said Cain told her. “’You are beautiful to me, and I would love for us to continue this friendship.’” She says in his hotel room, he pulled out a calendar and invited her to meet him in Palm Springs. She accepted, and she says the affair began.
“He made it very intriguing,” White told FOX 5. “It was fun. It was something that took me away from my humdrum life at the time. And it was exciting.” She says he gave her his newly-published book, Leadership is Common Sense, and he wrote: “Miss G, you have already made a 'big difference!’ Stay focused as you pursue your next destination." She says during the next 13 years, he would fly her to cities where he was speaking and he lavished her with gifts. She says they often stayed at the Ritz Carlton in Buckhead and dined at The Four Seasons restaurant. She says he never harassed her, never treated her poorly, and was the same man you see on the campaign trail.
She says the physical relationship ended about eight months ago, right before Cain announced he was running for president. But the communication did not. When we asked for any corroborating evidence, she pointed us to her cell phone contacts. One name: Herman Cain. She showed us some of her cell phone bills that included 61 phone calls or text messages to or from a number starting with 678. She says it is Herman Cain's private cell phone. The calls were made during four different months-- calls or texts made as early as 4:26 in the early morning, and as late as 7:52 at night. The latest were in September of this year.
“We've never worked together,” said White. “And I can't imagine someone phoning or texting me for the last two and a half years, just because.” We texted the number and Herman Cain called us back. He told us he "knew Ginger White" but said these are "more false allegations." He said she had his number because he was "trying to help her financially.”
Why come forward now?
She says she planned on keeping the relationship a secret while Cain made his run for the White House until she and her family watched reports of different women who had accused Herman Cain of sexual harassment. She says she was not surprised by the allegations, but was bothered by the way Cain fought back, attacking the woman, including during an appearance on Late Show with David Letterman. “It bothered me that they were being demonized, sort of, they were treated as if they were automatically lying, and the burden of proof was on them,” White said. “I felt bad for them.”
Does Ms. White have a past that may call her veracity into question?
Before our interview, we checked into Ginger White's background. We found she filed a sexual harassment claim against an employer in 2001. That case was settled. We also found a bankruptcy filing nearly 23 years ago in Kentucky, and a number of eviction notices here in DeKalb County over the past six years. The most recent happened this month. Ms. White says she has been unemployed, and she is a single mom with two kids struggling to make ends meet.
We also found a lawsuit filed by a former business partner, Kimberly Vay, who once sought a "stalking temporary protective order" against Ms. White for "repeated e-mails/texts threatening lawsuit and defamation of character." The case was dismissed; but was followed by a libel lawsuit against Ms. White. A judge entered an order in favor of Kimberly Vay because Ms. White failed to respond to the lawsuit.
Alright, unofficial Townhall jury: Thoughts? White's last legal troubles and current financial straits are legitimate issues to raise in assessing her credibility, so kudos to Fox 5 Atlanta for exploring those questions. To me, the cell phone records could be the smoking gun. During the four-month stretch covered by the bill she provided, there were 61 calls or texts exchanged with Cain's personal cell phone number. That averages out to roughly one contact every other day, which seems like an awful lot. I would like to know how many of those calls and texts were originated by Cain, though, versus the other way around. If this woman overwhelmingly peppered him with contacts, that's a lot less incriminating. Parting thought: Anyone coming around to the "where there's this much smoke, there must be fire" conclusion?
UPDATE V - Full video from Atlanta's Fox 5 News: