Herman Cain's alleged 13-year-long affair: Should it matter?

Herman Cain has been accused of having a 13-year-long affair.Yet another woman has come forward to accuse Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain of sexual misconduct. But this time, the issue isn't sexual harassment or a wandering hand. This time, the claim is that the former head of Godfather Pizza had a 13-year-long extramarital affair that ended just before he announced his bid for the White House. And we can't help but wonder: When it comes to potential presidents, where does one draw the line between private betrayals and public office?

"It was pretty simple," Ginger White told WAGA-TV, a Fox affiliate in Atlanta also known as FOX 5. "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 says that the 13-year affair began in the late 1990s in Louisville, Kentucky, when he gave a speech as president of the National Restaurant Association. They had drinks afterward, and he invited her to his hotel room, she told reporter Dale Russell.

She says that Cain told her: "I would like to definitely see you again. You are very beautiful to me, and I would love for us to continue this friendship." And she says they did, meeting in cities where he was speaking and staying together in hotels on and off for nearly 14 years.

"He made it very intriguing," the 46-year-old single mother told FOX 5. "It was fun. It was something that took me away from my humdrum life at the time. And it was exciting." FOX 5 describes White as an Atlanta-area business woman, but ABC News points out that she is currently unemployed, has been divorced "at least twice" before, has a raft of financial problems and may be facing eviction for non-payment of rent.

Ginger White has accused GOP candidate Herman Cain of having an on-again, off-again affair with her since the 1990s. …Though White says that the physical part of the affair ended about eight months ago, just before Cain announced his candidacy, White insists that the two are still friends. She showed the Atlanta news station cell phone bills that included "61 phone calls or text messages to or from a number starting with 678," which she said was Cain's private cell phone number. A reporter from the TV station sent a text message to that number, and Herman Cain called back.

Cain -- who told ABC News and Yahoo! just a few weeks ago that "I can categorically say I have never acted inappropriately with anyone, period" -- acknowledged Monday that he knew White and that he had her phone number because he was trying to help her financially. But he denied the affair.

"I acknowledge that I knew the woman," he told CNN an hour or so before White's interview aired on the Atlanta news station. "I acknowledge that I have known her for about that period of time. But the accusation that I had an a 13-year affair with her, no."

White told FOX 5 that she is "not proud" of the affair and had not planned to come forward, but felt that she had to before she was engulfed in a "political tsunami." "I wanted to give out my side, before it was thrown out there and made out to be something filthy," she told the station.

She also said that she "felt bad" for the other woman who had recently accused Cain of sexual misconduct. “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," White said.

Two of the four women who have said that Cain sexually harassed them received cash to settle their cases against him in the late 1990s. But, unlike those accusers, White points out that she and Cain were not colleagues. "We've never worked together," she told FOX 5. She told the news station that Cain never harassed her or treated her badly.

Cain told CNN that his wife Gloria's immediate reaction to White's allegation was, "Here we go again," and earlier this month Gloria Cain told Fox News's Greta Van Sustern, "I know that's not the person he is. He totally respects women." But Cain's lawyer, Lin Wood, sent FOX 5 in Atlanta a statement that doesn't actually deny the affair. Instead, Wood seems to make the case that an extramarital affair shouldn't be a political issue.

"This is not an accusation of harassment in the workplace," Wood said in the statement. "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," Wood continued. "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."

Anthony Weiner would probably agree. But we want to know what you think: Should a political candidate's private indiscretions affect his (or her) ability to hold public office?

 

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