Dec. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Herman Cain plans to say today whether he’ll continue his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, after a week spent denying an Atlanta woman’s claim to have carried on a 13-year extramarital affair with him.
Cain, who returned home to Atlanta yesterday for his first face-to-face talk with his wife since the charge surfaced on Nov. 28, said he would decide on a potential exit from the race based on the toll on his family, as well as his campaign fundraising.
The former Godfather’s Pizza chief executive’s reputation and standing in the polls had already been damaged over the last month by allegations from four other women that he sexually harassed them in the 1990s -- charges he also denied.
“I will be making an announcement, but nobody’s going to get me to make that prematurely,” Cain, 65, told voters yesterday in Rock Hill, South Carolina, before heading home.
He said he would “clarify exactly what the next steps are” for his candidacy. His campaign said he would appear during an event in an Atlanta suburb between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. local time.
“My wife and family comes first -- I’ve got to take that into consideration,” Cain said in South Carolina, even as he dismissed the allegations as “garbage” and said he was confident that voters still backed him.
“We’ve got to look at what happens to contributions,” Cain added.
Cain previously said that financial backing for his campaign plummeted the day after Ginger White went public on an Atlanta television station Nov. 28 with her claim of the affair with Cain. White said that during their relationship, he treated her to lavish meals and hotel stays as Cain flew her around the country to meet him.
White told MSNBC Dec. 1 that the relationship was a casual one that “wasn’t a love affair. It was a sexual affair.”
Cain told the Union Leader newspaper in Manchester, New Hampshire Dec. 1 that his wife of 43 years, Gloria, didn’t know that he repeatedly gave money to White for “month-to-month bills and expenses.” He said his wife was also unaware until White came forward to the media that he and White “were friends.”
He said campaign contributions had started to rebound, yet it was unclear whether Cain could recover enough to remain a contender for his party’s nomination. The Des Moines Register released poll data yesterday showing Cain’s backing had dropped to 8 percent of Republican caucus-goers in Iowa, from 23 percent last month.
The Iowa caucuses began the nominating process on Jan. 3. The Register is releasing the poll numbers for other candidates today.
Even as Cain has publicly weighed an exit from the race, he and his campaign have given the impression they were intensifying their efforts. A “Women for Cain” website was launched yesterday, billed as the hub for a coalition of female supporters headed by his wife.
Cain also is scheduled to attend the “grand opening” of his Georgia headquarters today, and the campaign circulated an e-mail to supporters asking them to make holiday videos for Cain with 30-second testimonials “in support of Herman Cain as America’s next President.”
With little in the way of formal organization, Cain built an unconventional campaign around his signature “9-9-9” tax plan, attracting the interest of some fiscally and socially conservative voters looking for an alternative to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in the Republican race.
While his rivals have lavished attention on voters and activists in the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, Cain spent much of the year traveling elsewhere promoting his book “This Is Herman Cain!” and visiting states that have little initial sway in the Republican contest. These have included Ohio, Texas, Wisconsin and his native Tennessee.
He has also faced questions about his readiness for the Oval Office, particularly after video of him struggling to answer a question on Libya last month during an editorial board interview circulated on the Internet.
--Editors: Don Frederick, Mark McQuillan.
To contact the reporter on this story: Julie Hirschfeld Davis in Washington at Jdavis159@bloomberg.net.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at firstname.lastname@example.org