An Atlanta woman delivered what could be another harmful blow to Herman Cain's presidential aspirations when she alleged in a television interview on Monday that the two had an affair, providing more fuel for allegations of sexual misconduct that have damaged Cain in the polls.
Cain, in an unusual move, made his own preemptive appearance on CNN before Ginger White's interview with Atlanta's WAGA-TV Fox 5 News to declare that the allegations were untrue. “I did not have an affair.… I have done nothing wrong,” Cain said.
Cain described White as a "friend" and said there was nothing sexual between them. White provided the TV station with telephone records that its reporter later found to be Cain's cell phone number; in an interview with CNN on Monday, Cain said she had his number because he was “trying to help her financially.”
“It was pretty simple,” White told the station. “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.”
White is the third woman to publicly identify herself while accusing Cain of improper sexual conduct. A fourth anonymous woman told the Associated Press that she was sexually harassed but did not file a complaint.
White told the station that she met Cain in the late 1990s in Louisville, Ky., when he served as president of the National Restaurant Association. After going to his hotel room, she said, he invited her to visit him in Palm Springs, Calif.
“He made it very intriguing,” White told WAGA. “It was fun. It was something that took me away from my humdrum life at the time. And it was exciting.”
She said that he subsequently would fly her to cities where he was speaking and lavished her with gifts, and that they often stayed at the Ritz Carlton in Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood and dined at The Four Seasons restaurant. She also said he never harassed her nor treated her poorly.
“I'm not proud,” White said, who said she agreed to talk to the station after it received a tip about her alleged involvement with Cain. “I didn't want to come out with this. I did not.”
After White's appearance, Cain's campaign issued a statement saying that he has been "100 percent honest" with the American people and would not let such attacks deter him.
(PICTURES: Political Sex Scandals)
“The American public is tired of dirty politics and smear tactics as evident of their tremendous outpouring of support for me, my family, and my campaign this past month," he said in the statement.
Cain earlier told CNN's Wolf Blitzer he does not have plans to drop out of the race, but is concerned about the damage “baseless” accusations are doing to his wife and his family.
“If I drop out because of this kind of mess, then the system wins and one of the reasons I’m running is to change the system,” Cain said.
Cain was the Republican front-runner at the time the initial allegations against him surfaced. But recent polls have shown him in third place, trailing Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney. A mid-November ABC News/Washington Post poll showed that Americans believed Cain's accusers, 44 percent to 33 percent, over his denials.
Gingrich, interviewed on Fox's "O'Reilly Factor," declined to say whether the allegations spelled massive political trouble for his rival. "People said I was dead in June, July," Gingrich said. "I'm not going to say that any candidate's done."
Cain's campaign, in doing damage control, is citing White's past history in an attempt to discredit her story. According to WAGA's report, she filed a sexual harassment claim against an employer in 2001 that was later settled. She also reportedly filed for bankruptcy nearly 23 years ago in Kentucky and has received a number of eviction notices in DeKalb County over the past six years, including one this month.
The TV station also said a former business partner, Kimberly Vay, once sought a "stalking temporary protective order" against White for "repeated e-mails/texts threatening lawsuit and defamation of character." The case was dismissed but was followed by a libel lawsuit against White; a judge entered an order in Vay's favor because White failed to respond to the suit.
White said she is unemployed and is a single mother raising two children. "I don't think that makes me out to be a bad person,” she said. “It makes me out to be one of the millions of people right now trying to keep a roof over their head.”