Besieged by reports of personal misconduct involving women other than his wife, plus growing critical comment from conservative commentators and some Republican officials, Herman Cain says he’s considering dropping out of the presidential race.
The drip, drip, drip of revelations related to Cain’s conduct and character continued Thursday when he met with the editors of New Hampshire’s statewide Union Leader newspaper, a powerful conservative voice in Republican politics.
Cain acknowledged that he had been giving money to Ginger White, the woman who alleges that she had a 13-year affair with the Republican businessman. He also said that his wife Gloria did not know about that – or even that Ms. White was a friend of Cain’s – until the alleged affair was reported in recent days.
Cain would not say how much money he had given White, but he told the Union Leader “that he repeatedly gave Ginger White money to help her with ‘month-to-month bills and expenses’ without telling his wife.”
“She was out of work and had trouble paying her bills, and I had known her as a friend,” Cain said, emphasizing that there was no sexual affair. "She wasn't the only friend who I had helped in these tough economic times, and so her messages to me were relating to ‘need money for rent' or whatever the case may be. I don't remember all the specifics."
"I'm a soft-hearted person when it comes to that stuff. I have helped members of my church. I have helped members of my family,” he said. "And I know a lot of other people who had done the same thing, and sometimes, quite frankly, it was desperation.”
Still, Cain has been hard put to explain the 70 text messages he received from White over a four-month period.
Cain, once a prominent first-tier contender in the race for the GOP presidential nomination, has seen his standing in polls slide following a series of gaffes regarding important issues along with allegations of sexual harassment by four women.
Meanwhile, conservative political analysts and activists have been increasingly critical of the way Cain’s campaign has been conducted.
“It’s actually sad – watching a candidate as talented and capable as Herman Cain get so beat up because of incompetence and indecision within his campaign,” Republican consultant Chris LaCivita told Politico.com.
Dave Welch, another Republican strategist who worked on both of John McCain’s presidential bids, told the AP, “His chance at winning the presidency is effectively zero.”
For now, Cain’s political future appears to hang on how his wife deals with the latest news involving another woman. Cain has been on the campaign trail, and the two have not been face-to-face since White made her allegation about the long-running affair, which she said ended just this year when Cain entered the presidential race.
"My wife now knows," Cain said, according to the Union Leader. "My wife and I have talked about it and I have explained it to her. My wife understands that I'm a soft-hearted, giving person."
Acknowledging that it is “only speculation,” Cain suggested that somebody paid White to go public with her charge.
Early this week, Cain and his political operatives said he was “reassessing” his campaign, while emphasizing that he planned to continue in any case.
Now, he said in the interview in New Hampshire Thursday, “getting out is an option.”
Cain will be back home in Georgia to meet with his wife and other family members Friday.
"I would make a decision based on how all of this stuff is affecting her, because I will put her first," he said.