WASHINGTON – In an explosive allegation, a Georgia woman said Monday she and Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain had a 13-year extramarital affair that nearly lasted until the former businessman announced his candidacy for the White House several months ago.
“Here we go again. I didn’t do anything wrong,” Cain said in a pre-emptive denial that lumped a detailed claim of a consensual affair in with earlier allegations of sexual harassment.
But the woman, Ginger White, said in an interview with Fox 5 Atlanta that over the years, Cain bought her airplane tickets so she could join him in cities as far-flung as Palm Springs, Calif., and Atlanta.
“It was fun,” the 46-year-old White said. “It was something that took me away from my sort of humdrum life at the time. And it was exciting.”
Though Cain flatly denied the affair, his lawyer issued a public statement that included no such denial and suggested that the media and the public had no business snooping into the details of consensual conduct between adults.
After the initial report and Cain’s denial, White told The Associated Press that Cain was not being truthful when he said there had been no affair.
Cain’s candidacy was soaring in the polls until he was hit less than a month ago with accusations that he sexually harassed several women and groped one while he was a high-ranking official at the National Restaurant Association. He has since fallen back in the public opinion surveys, and been eclipsed by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in the race to emerge as the principal conservative alternative to Mitt Romney.
At her apartment in Dunwoody, Ga., White declined to elaborate on her statements during a brief interview with the AP. “I can’t make any comment on this,” she said. “We’re trying to be slightly sensitive.”
In its report, the television station said White had Cain’s name in her cell phone contacts, and when its reporter sent a text message to the number, he called right back.
“He told us he knew ‘Ginger White’ but said these are more false allegations,” the station reported. Cain said that White had his number because he was trying to help her financially.
In a written statement released immediately after the story aired, Cain’s campaign said detractors were trying to “derail the Cain Train with more accusations of past events that never happened.”
Later, at a fundraiser in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., Cain avoided reporters’ questions.
In his initial denial, televised on CNN, Cain vowed to remain in the presidential race, as long as he has the support of his wife, with whom he said he had discussed the most recent allegation.
In her interview, White said she decided to come forward after seeing Cain attack his other accusers in an appearance on television.
“It bothered me that they were being demonized, sort of, and being treated as if they were automatically lying, and the burden of proof was on them,” she said. “I felt bad for them.”
White told the Atlanta TV station she expects to be scrutinized by Cain and the media.