Earlier today Herman Cain issued a preemtive denial, saying that a woman he thought was his friend was going to falsely accuse him of having an affair with her. Now we know what the hell he was talking about. Ginger White, an Atlanta businesswoman, says she's carried on a sexual relationship with with Herman Cain for the past 13 years. She wasn't planning on going public, but she decided to tell her story when it became clear the media was about to expose the relationship. Seeing Cain call the women who accused him of sexual harassment unbalanced liars only made her decision easier.
We've heard about Cain's (alleged) unsuccessful advances toward women, but it stands to reason that someone gave him reason to believe his methods might work. Apparently White is that woman. In an interview with Fox 5 Atlanta, she says she started seeing Cain after watching him make a presentation for the National Restaurant Association in Louisville, Kentucky in the late '90s. They went out for drinks afterwards, and he invited her up to his hotel room. He told her, "'I'd like to see you again ... You are beautiful to me, and I would love for us to continue this friendship," then he whipped out a calendar and asked her to meet him again in Palm Springs.
For the next 13 years, he flew her in to cities where he was doing business and treated her to dinner at the Four Seasons and stays at the Ritz Carlton. White says they never worked together, and it seems there was nothing illegal about their relationship (though certainly the Restaurant Association may want to examine his business expenses from that time period). Cain didn't treat White poorly, and basically it was your run of the mill affair. She says that behind closed doors, he was pretty much the same guy you see flubbing foreign policy questions and affably denying harassment allegations:
"[He was] very much the same, very much confident, very much sure of himself ... Very arrogant in a playful sometimes way. Very, ah — Herman Cain loves Herman Cain."
They had their last hotel rendezvous eight months ago, around the time Cain decided to run for president, but they continued texting and calling each other. White showed a reporter her recent phone bills as proof, and when he texted what she identified as Cain's private number, he called back, telling the man using his alleged mistress' cell that she was just a friend and he "was trying to help her financially."
White says she was aware that Cain was married and is "not proud" of what she did. She intended to keep quiet, but started getting calls from reporters after a tipster called several media outlets. Seeing the way Cain has lashed out at his accusers convinced her she should come out with her side of the story first. She said of the other women:
"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 ... I felt bad for them."
While Cain told Wolf Blitzer today that the affair never took place, it seems even his lawyer isn't convinced. He told FOX 5 Atlanta:
"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."
As we recall, originally the Cain team didn't consider the investigation into the sexual harassment charges "subject matters of legitimate inquiry," but now it's clear that Cain is being unfairly persecuted by the media. It's totally unprecedented for reporters to discuss a candidate's extramarital affair! Though it doesn't look great that even Cain and his lawyer couldn't get their stories straight on whether or not he and White had a relationship, this story probably won't hurt his campaign. For Cain, accusations of a consensual sexual relationship are actually a nice change of pace.
Georgia Woman Claims 13-Year Affair with Herman Cain [FOX 5 Atlanta]