Cain Says He Will Quit Race If Wife Asks Him To

Dec 1, 2011 5:14pm

MANCHESTER, N.H. – An embattled Herman Cain admitted Thursday that his wife did not know about his friendship with Ginger White, the woman who has claimed to have engaged in a long-term affair with the presidential candidate, nor did he tell his wife about the financial assistance he offered  White, and he is prepared to quit the race if his wife asks him to,  according to the New Hampshire Union Leader and CSPAN.

In an hour-long interview with the New Hampshire Union Leader’s editorial board, Cain acknowledged that he’d helped White with “month-to-month bills and expenses” and that his wife, Gloria, “did not know that we were friends until she [White] came out with this story.”

The presidential candidate said his wife “is comfortable with the explanation that I told her.”  Cain has yet to discuss the allegations, which arose Monday, with his wife in person but plans to do so Friday when he returns to Georgia.

Cain told the editorial board White had sent him about 70 text messages asking for financial assistance over a nearly four-week period between Oct. 22 and Nov. 18.

“She wasn’t the only friend who I had helped in these tough economic times, and so her messages to me were relating to ‘need money for rent’ or whatever the case may be. I don’t remember all the specifics,” Cain said in the interview.

Cain said White claimed to be out of a job and was unable to obtain financial assistance from her family, telling him “that quite frankly, I was the only person who was a friend at the time – and I underscore ‘friend’ – that was in a position to help her.

“I’m a soft-hearted person when it comes to that stuff. I have helped members of my church. I have helped members of my family. And I know a lot of other people who had done the same thing. Sometimes it was, quite frankly, desperation,” Cain said.

Cain, who said he sent White 17 text messages, some questioning her efforts to look for employment, admitted to providing financial assistance to White but did not detail an exact amount, per advice of counsel.

Cain emphasized that he gave her money voluntarily and that White did not threaten or blackmail him.

“No threats, no. There wasn’t any indication that there would be some blackmail or anything,” he told the editorial board. “Look, I thought she was a friend. End of story.”

Cain is currently conducting a “reassessment” of his campaign, during which he will consider strategy, fundraising, supporters and his family before deciding whether or not to continue in the presidential race.  He told reporters that “getting out [of the race] is an option” and that a decision on his “reassessment” will come by “next week.”

Asked if he would drop out of the race if his wife asked him to, Cain said he would.

“But my wife wouldn’t ask me to get out,” he added. “She’s not the type to say, ‘You ought to get out.’”

Cain was originally scheduled to be interviewed by the Union Leader’ board last month but canceled the meeting when the paper refused to shorten the interview from 60 to 20 minutes.  Earlier this week, the Union Leader bestowed its coveted endorsement upon former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

ABC News’ Amy Bingham contributed to this report.

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