The MORNING LINE -- November 30, 2011 at 7:03 AM ET
Cain to Reassess Campaign, Asks Supporters to Stick with Him
A Fox5 website shows Ginger White, who claims to have had a 13-year affair with Herman Cain. The GOP presidential candidate has denied the accusation. Photo by Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images.
A day after an Atlanta woman named Ginger White said she had a 13-year romantic affair with Herman Cain, the one-time front-runner in the 2012 Republican primary said on a conference call Tuesday that he would reassess his campaign. It was the first sign that the numerous claims of sexual harassment and this new allegation of adultery have become too much for the candidate to withstand.
On Wednesday, White shared new details about the affair with George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "Good Morning America." White said she had been communicating with Cain until last week and reiterated that she was telling the truth about the affair -- and that Cain wasn't.
"I can't imagine waking up one morning and deciding to come out with this if this was not true.This has been a very difficult situation for myself, for my family and it is nothing I am proud of," White said. "Last night I slept very well telling the truth. I am not sure what's going on in his head right now, but it's unfortunate that any of this is going on."
White added that she didn't think Cain would make a good president, but said Cain needs to decided for himself if he should end his campaign.
White added that while she never wanted to reveal the affair, she was determined to share her story. She described the experience of coming forward as humiliating.
Cain has said that he knew White and only had helped her financially.
Robert Costa of the National Review has a transcript of the conference call Cain held with his senior staff Tuesday.
"Now, with this latest one, we have to do an assessment as to whether or not this is going to create too much of a cloud, in some people's minds, as to whether or not they would be able to support us going forth," Cain said....
"It's also taken a toll on my wife and family, as you would imagine," he concluded. "Any time you put another cloud of doubt, unfortunately, in the court of public opinion, for some people, you're guilty until proven innocent. And so, the public will have to decide whether they believe her or whether they believe me. That's why we're going to give it time, to see what type of response we get from our supporters."
However, Cain wasn't ready to call it quits. Before giving a foreign policy speech at Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Mich., his campaign tried to turn the news of the affair into a fundraiser. The campaign sent out an email titled "Stand With Me" featuring a big "DONATE NOW" button next to Cain's face and an explanation that White was lying about the affair.
"But now I am asking for your friendship. I am also asking for your prayers and support. This is a trying time for my family, my campaign, and for me," Cain said in the email. "It is also a trying time for our country as we are all distracted from the truly important issues facing our nation."
It's unclear who would benefit most from Cain dropping out of the race, which will come soon if prominent supporters start to leave his side and campaign money evaporates. One of the biggest benefactors would be Newt Gingrich, who has gained steadily in polls over the past several weeks exactly as Cain has dropped. An average of polls last week from Real Clear Politics shows Cain at about 15 percent nationally, Gingrich at 23 and Mitt Romney at 21.
Romney has been focused on the current occupant of the White House for much of the campaign, but Tuesday he turned his attention to the Republican rival who now poses perhaps the biggest threat to his chances of squaring off with President Obama next year: Gingrich.
In an interview with Bret Baier of Fox News, Romney said he would "stand by far the best shot" of defeating the president among the candidates seeking the GOP nomination.
"I think to get President Obama out of office, you're going to have to bring something to the race that's different than what [Gingrich] brings. He's a lifelong politician. I think you have to have the credibility of understanding how the economy works. And I do. And that's one reason I'm in this race," Romney said.
"He spent his last 30 or 40 years in Washington," Romney said. "I spent my career in the private sector. I think that's what the country needs right now."
Romney also defended the Massachusetts health care law he signed as governor -- and cited his continued support for that action to push back on charges that he's prone to shift positions on issues.
"It's by far the biggest challenge I have in the primary race. And if I were willing to say anything to get elected, wouldn't I just say, 'Oh, it was a mistake,'" Romney said. "I'm standing by what I did in Massachusetts, not trying to dust it aside," Romney added. "I'll defend that and I understand it has political implications. And if it keeps me from winning a primary, so be it."
Gingrich, who's campaigning in South Carolina this week, told WSC radio Monday that he was the "solid conservative alternative" to Romney. The former House speaker also suggested that Romney had changed his views for electoral reasons. "I wouldn't lie to the American people," Gingrich said. "I wouldn't switch my positions for political reasons."
For Gingrich, attacking Romney on the consistency issue could prove to be a tricky strategy, as he has also changed his views on issues such as climate change and an individual health care mandate. The candidate who wins this argument will be the one who's able to convince Republican voters that his shifts were made based on principle, while his rival's moves were done for political gain.
ANOTHER 'OOPS' MOMENT
Texas Gov. Rick Perry had some trouble with numbers Tuesday in New Hampshire, getting both the voting age and date of next year's election wrong during a town hall in Manchester.
"Those who are going to be over 21 on November 12th, I ask for your support," Perry said. "Those who won't be, just work hard."
The U.S. voting age is 18, and the 2012 election is Nov. 6.
For Perry, the civics slip up comes as he has struggled to recover from a series of unsteady debate performances, including the now infamous "oops" moment when he was unable to name the third federal agency he would eliminate as president.
The problem for Perry is that even a simple slip up reinforces the narrative that he's not ready for the spotlight and will likely blunt any progress he hopes to make up in the polls between now and Iowa in five weeks.
A Pew poll out Tuesday shows that the Tea Party is unpopular. A Nov. 9-14 survey shows 27 percent of Americans disagree with the movement and 20 percent agree with it -- a flip from the 22 percent disagreement and 27 percent support found in the survey a year ago.
Pew explains how even in districts represented by a House member in the Tea Party Caucus, the movement that helped bring a wave of enthusiasm and swept Republicans into control of the House, is losing steam:
Throughout the 2010 election cycle, agreement with the Tea Party far outweighed disagreement in the 60 House districts represented by members of the Congressional Tea Party Caucus. But as is the case nationwide, support has decreased significantly over the past year; now about as many people living in Tea Party districts disagree (23 percent) as agree (25 percent) with the Tea Party.
The development, if it holds through to 2012 (which is a big if), could mean diminished excitement on the right for some of the newly elected Tea Party-style House conservatives who will be in critical re-election bids.
ON THE TRAIL
All events listed in Eastern Time.
President Obama delivers remarks on extending the payroll tax cut in Scranton, Pa., at 2:45 p.m. He later travels to New York, where he will speak at three evening fundraisers.
Rick Perry campaigns in New Hampshire, attending a Nashua Chamber of Commerce at 8 a.m. and speaking at the state house in Concord at 10:30 a.m.
Newt Gingrich hosts a town hall in Greenville, S.C., at 8 a.m., and participates in a "Slice the Deficit" pizza party hosted by Strong America Now in Council Bluffs, Iowa, at 7 p.m.
Herman Cain holds three Ohio rallies: in West Chester at 9 a.m., Dayton at 12 p.m. and Columbus at 3 p.m.
Jon Huntsman campaigns in New Hampshire, holding a town hall in Concord at 9:30 a.m., addressing the New Hampshire State Legislature at 10:45 a.m. and speaking at a meet-and-greet in Portsmouth at 6 p.m.
Michele Bachmann campaigns in Iowa, speaking at a education forum in Cedar Falls at 2 p.m., and holding a pair of town halls -- in Waverly at 4:30 p.m. and in Charles City at 7:30 p.m.
All future events can be found on our Political Calendar:
For more political coverage, visit our politics page.
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