HILLSDALE, Mich. — Herman Cain hit the campaign trail again Tuesday night, his first event since Ginger White came forward acknowledging a 13-year affair with the GOP presidential contender, a claim that Cain has firmly denied. Cain took the stage at Hillsdale College in Michigan to unveil his national security and foreign policy plan.
“Life can be a challenge. Life can seem impossible. It’s never easy when there’s so much on the line, but you can make a difference,” Cain told the crowd of almost 500.
Moments before he took the stage, Cain sent an email message to supporters addressing this most recent accusation of impropriety.
In it, Cain called Ginger White as a “troubled Atlanta business woman” who he claimed had fabricated the story of a 13-year affair. Cain wrote, “I am writing you today to assure you that this woman’s story is completely false.”
Cain explained his relationship with White, writing “I do know Ms. White. I have helped her financially at times over the past few years, just as I have helped many friends and acquaintances throughout the years. I thought Ms. White was a friend in need of a supportive hand to better her life. ”
Cain went on to ask his supporters for their prayers and continued support. The campaign was able to boast an increase in donations and newfound support following the first claims of sexual harassment during his time at the National Restaurant Association. The fallout of this most recent accusation remains to be seen. Just yesterday morning Cain said he would be “reassessing” his campaign, leaving many wondering how much longer he would stay in the race.
But based on various reports and from Cain staffers, we shouldn’t expect Cain to give up so easily. In his email, Cain wrote, “Let me assure you, I am not deterred. America’s future is too important. We will continue on this journey to make America great once again.”
In his email, Cain said “While recent events have taken a toll on me, the people in the audience this evening will not know it. I will deliver my message with vigor and enthusiasm.”
But Cain’s delivery in Hillsdale was definitely missing his signature upbeat cadence. His tone was more subdued and serious. Cain, known for his sense of humor in his stump speeches, made few jokes. While attentive, the Hillsdale audience did not mirror the enthusiasm of the crowds that showed up at his events in Florida and New Hampshire earlier in the month. But his speech was well-received, with the crowd offering applause and a standing ovation at the end.
Cain described his approach to foreign policy and national security as an extension of the Reagan philosophy – “Peace through strength and clarity.” This approach is something Cain talks of often on the trail. Tuesday night however, he spoke directly to what the United States needed to do to build its strength zeroing in on increasing “military strength, economic strength, and moral strength.”
Cain criticized the current state of the military, faulting what he called a “cut, cut, cut” approach to national security.
“I happen to believe that we have allowed our military to get too weak. We’ve got the lowest number of U.S. ships active in the United States today, since 1915, since before World War I. That’s not strength.” As president, Cain vowed to increase the number of active ships, specifically ballistic missile detection capable ships.
Aaron Schepps, a student at Hillsdale College and currently undecided in his choice for president, came to hear more about Cain’s foreign policy approach. Schepps gave his own analysis of Cain’s foreign policy speech saying, “He didn’t offer me much sustenance as far as the content of the actual speech.” But he countered that, saying “I thought it was really convincing and I respect him for doing it that way because he intrigued me enough to go deeper in the future.”
As far as the allegations, many in the Hillsdale crowd considered the allegations to be a distraction from what see as the real issues of this election – the economy and jobs.
While some who attended the event tonight were Cain supporters, others who labeled themselves “uncommitted,” seemed to doubt the validity of the allegations. Throughout his speech tonight, Cain spoke about the importance of morality, a point that was not lost on Schepps.
Discussing the sexual harassment allegations and this latest allegation of a 13-year affair, the student who’s still searching for his candidate said, “I think that it is really pertinent especially because even in his speech tonight he talked about moral fiber being one of the top three things that is going to ensure domestic security.”