Atlanta Woman Accuses Cain Of Affair

An Atlanta woman has told a local TV station that she had a 13-year-long sexual relationship with GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain. For several weeks now, Cain's campaign has been dogged by several accusations of sexual harassment. Melissa Block talks with NPR national political correspondent Don Gonyea.

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GUY RAZ, HOST:

From NPR News, this ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Guy Raz.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain is facing new accusations that could derail his presidential campaign. A Georgia woman has told an Atlanta TV station that she had an extramarital affair with Cain that lasted 13 years and which ended, she says, just this year. She made that claim in an on-camera interview with the station - which aired tonight.

This all comes just weeks after two women came forward and publicly accused Cain of sexual harassment during the 1990s, while he headed the National Restaurant Association. This afternoon, Cain issued a denial of an affair with the woman, going on CNN even before the local TV report aired.

Joining us to talk about Herman Cain's latest troubles is NPR national political correspondent Don Gonyea. And Don, let's be clear. This is not a charge of harassment, in this case, but of a long-term, consensual affair. Why don't we listen to a piece of the FOX 5 Atlanta interview with the woman making the claims. Her name is Ginger White.

(SOUNDBITE OF INTERVIEW)

GINGER WHITE: It wasn't complicated, and I was aware that he was married. And I was also aware that I was involved in a very inappropriate situation.

BLOCK: Don, what more can you tell us?

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: Well, Ms. White has been an Atlanta businesswoman. She is also unemployed, a single mom. The Atlanta FOX-TV station says that she and Herman Cain met in the late '90s in Louisville, when he was head of the National Restaurant Association. He gave her a copy of his book. It was inscribed - all this according to the TV station report.

She talks in the interview about stays in luxury hotels. She says this was all consensual, and that he was very much like the Herman Cain that we see on the campaign trail - the one we've gotten to know over the past many months - very confident, very sure of himself. Let's listen to another clip from that interview.

(SOUNDBITE OF INTERVIEW)

WHITE: He made it very intriguing. It was fun. It was something that took me away from my sort of humdrum life at the time. And it was exciting.

GONYEA: And again, she says their physical relationship ended about eight months ago. That's just before he'd gotten into the presidential race. She says that they remain friends.

BLOCK: And what does Herman Cain have to say about this?

GONYEA: He went on CNN this afternoon, before the report aired, and gave a preemptive denial - again, before we even saw what was in this report from the Atlanta TV station. Here he is, talking with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

(SOUNDBITE OF INTERVIEW)

WOLF BLITZER: Was this an affair?

HERMAN CAIN: No, it was not.

BLITZER: There was no sex?

CAIN: No.

BLITZER: None?

CAIN: No.

BLITZER: And if this woman says there is, she's lying? Is that what you're...

CAIN: Well, Wolf, let's see what the story is going to be. I don't want to get into, you know, being pinned down on some things until we see what the story is going to be.

GONYEA: Now, we've seen what the story is. Since then, the Cain campaign has put out a statement. I'll just read the top of it. The, quote, detractors are trying once again to derail the Cain train with more accusations of past events that never happened.

BLOCK: It's interesting though, Don, because Herman Cain's lawyer earlier made a statement that seems to be taking a totally different tone from what the campaign is saying right now.

GONYEA: Right. And when he held that press conference some weeks back with his lawyer, it was - again - almost intimidating, telling people if you come forward, this guy is going to come after you. Today, Lin Wood has issued a statement saying: This is not an accusation of harassment in the workplace. It's not an accusation of an assault, which are subject matters of legitimate inquiry to a political candidate.

He goes on to say: This was private, it was consensual, and it's not the kind of thing that the public or the media has any business looking into.

BLOCK: And Don, effect on Herman Cain's campaign - what do you think?

GONYEA: We'll see, we'll see. He's already been slipping in the polls. And again, that attorney, it's a non-denial. He's not saying this happened, but he's saying if it happened...

BLOCK: It's none of your business.

GONYEA: It's none of your business.

BLOCK: NPR national political correspondent Don Gonyea. Don, thanks so much.

GONYEA: Thank you.

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