- The Washington Times - Monday, November 28, 2011

An Atlanta businesswoman said Monday that she had a 13-year extramarital affair with Herman Cain — an accusation he went on television to deny, but that is likely to continue as a storyline that has dented the presidential hopes of the onetime Republican front-runner.

Unlike some of the other claims that included allegations of sexual harassment, Ginger White told Fox 5 News in Atlanta that she maintained a long-running affair with Mr. Cain, and pointed to phone bills depicting repeated calls and text messages between the two as evidence.

“It was pretty simple,” Ms. White said. “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.”

Speaking on CNN before the local news story aired, Mr. Cain said he knew the woman but denied having an affair with her.

“There was someone who was supposed to be a friend, but obviously they didn’t see it as a friend,” he said.

Asked by host Wolf Blitzer whether he had sex with the woman, Mr. Cain flatly said, “No.” Mr. Blitzer pressed the issue, asking whether that meant “none,” and Mr. Cain again said, “No.”

His attorney, Lin Wood, sent the Fox affiliate a statement saying the allegation involved two consenting adults, did not involve a charge of assault or sexual harassment, and therefore “is not a proper subject of inquiry by the media or the public.”

In a statement after the report aired, Mr. Cain said that voters are “tired of dirty politics and smear tactics.”

“I have spoken directly to the American people and have been 100 percent honest with them,” Mr. Cain said. “My plan is to continue to spread my vision on how I would renew America and keep her safe. I will not fight false claims as it is not what America needs or wants.”

The former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza surged in the polls earlier this fall, and he even took a lead in some national surveys over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Mr. Cain’s numbers have declined over the past few weeks, though, and the latest to rise is former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is now casting himself as the best conservative alternative to Mr. Romney.

Mr. Cain’s slide coincided with news reports that unearthed past allegations of sexually inappropriate behavior, which led to two financial separation agreements with women who worked for him while he served as head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s. Two other women also lobbed accusations against Mr. Cain, though only one of them, Sharon Bailek, a Chicago-area woman, came forward publicly to air her story. She told reporters that he slid his hand under her skirt and pulled her head toward his crotch as they sat in a car.

Mr. Cain denied all the allegations, though he has come under scrutiny for the sloppy way in which he has handled them.

Still, he sits in third place in a Real Clear Politics average of national polls, and is running second in polling in Iowa, where the state’s caucuses kick off the nomination process on Jan. 3.

After the news report Monday, several cable news outlets questioned whether Mr. Cain’s campaign would be able to survive the latest scandal.

The Fox affiliate said it learned of Ms. White from a tipster who also contacted several national media outlets. Ms. White said she talked to the station because she felt trapped by the story.

The single mother of two said the affair began in Louisville, Ky., where the two met after Mr. Cain, who was at the helm of the restaurant association, gave a presentation.

They shared drinks and Mr. Cain invited her to his hotel room, where he asked her to meet again in Palm Springs, Calif. That was the beginning of what the station said she described as an off-and-on affair.

Ms. White pointed to her cellphone bills as proof of the relationship. They included 61 phone calls or texts from a phone number that belonged to Mr. Cain. But the report did not include any photos or hotel receipts from the time she said the two spent together.

The station said she didn’t have love letters or similar evidence because it wasn’t that kind of relationship.

“He made it very intriguing,” Ms. White told the television station. “It was fun. It was something that took me away from my humdrum life at the time. And it was exciting.”

She said she came forward after seeing the earlier accusations and becoming bothered by the way Mr. Cain responded to them by questioning the veracity of the accusers.

The affair, she said, ended eight months ago, shortly before Mr. Cain announced that he was running for president.

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