The Cain Train Rolls In For "Reassessment???


The full interview with Ginger White, who has accused presidential candidate Herman Cain of conducting a 13-year-long affair with her, has been made public.  Her story sounds more sadly plausible than some of the wilder accusations lobbed against Cain thus far.  She has said she didn’t want to go public, but changed her mind because a tipster was about to push the story into the media.

Like the other Cain accusers, there are some items of interest in White’s history, including a string of liens and civil judgments stretching back to 1994, according to ABC News:

Eleven of those liens have been filed since 2009, with nine in 2011. The owners of her apartment complex in Dunwoody, Georgia have sued her for non-payment of rent nearly every month since the beginning of the year.

White, a 46-year-old unemployed single mother who is at least twice divorced, was described by WAGA as an Atlanta-area businesswoman. While living in Louisville, Kentucky, she worked at Recruitment Plus, LLC. According to WAGA, she filed a sex harassment claim against an employer ten years ago, and the case was settled. The station also found a bankruptcy filing from the late 1980s.

In January, there is a scheduled court date in an unrelated civil suit filed against her by a former business partner, Kimberly Vay, who alleges that White stalked and harassed her and had sought a protective order. A judge has entered a default judgment in Vay’s favor.

(Emphases mine.)  Unlike the other Cain accusers, White has some documentary evidence, “including cell phone records indicating calls and texts from Cain, some in the early morning hours.”  ABC notes she “also claimed Cain flew her to different cities and lavished her with gifts,” a trail the media should be able to verify or disprove with reasonable ease, since it’s thirteen years long.

Cain is denying the affair, and White says she’s not surprised by his denials.  Cain concedes he has known White for 13 years, and says his extensive telephone communications with her were part of an effort to render financial assistance.  However, his lawyer’s initial response to the WAGA-TV story asserted merely that consensual affairs are totally different than sexual harassment, and therefore none of the media’s business.

Now, courtesy of Robert Costa at National Review, we learn “In a conference call this morning, Herman Cain told his senior staff that he is ‘reassessing’ whether to remain in the race. He told them he will make his final decision ‘over the next several days.’”  A subsequently posted transcript of the conference call made it clear Cain still denies the affair, but thinks the new allegations have the potential to bury a campaign that once soared beyond all expectations:

“Obviously, you’re all aware of this recent firestorm that hit the news yesterday,” Cain began, his voice somber. “First thing I want to do is say to you what I have said publicly: I deny those charges, unequivocally. Secondly, I have known this lady for a number of years. And thirdly, I have been attempting to help her financially because she was out of work and destitute, desperate. So thinking that she was a  friend, and I have helped many friends, I now know that she wasn’t the friend that I thought she was. But it was a just a friendship relationship.”

“That being said, obviously, this is cause for reassessment,” he continued. “As you know, during the summer we had to make some reassessments based upon our financial situation. We were able to hang in there; we reassessed the situation and kept on going. We also did a reassessment after the Iowa straw poll and we made another reassessment after the Florida straw poll. When the previous two accusations, false accusations, came about, we made another assessment. The way we handled those was, we continued on with our schedule. We made an assessment about what was going to happen to our support. But our supporters, and even some folks that we didn’t have as supporters, they stood with us, and they showed it, not only in terms of their verbal support, they showed it in terms of their dollars.”

That’s a far cry from his damn-the-torpedoes attitude toward the sexual harassment allegations.  It’s hard to imagine that such a publicly declared “reassessment” will end with a cry of “full speed ahead,” or that all the seats on the Cain Train would be filled when it rolled back out of the station.

Cain’s position in the race had already weakened greatly, and not primarily due to the sexual harassment allegations, although that will certainly become his one-sentence obituary in all future political histories.  Lackluster debate performances and interview brain freezes had at least as much to do with it, but that narrative is too complicated, and would prove less useful the next time a candidate needs to be taken down a notch with allegations of impropriety. 

A candidate already sliding in the polls is less able to deal with this type of controversy, given the effect it’s likely to have on supporters.  If White’s allegations are false, Cain needs a couple of speech and debate grand slams to re-ignite his campaign.  Primary voters are deeply concerned with how the candidates will fare against Obama in the general election, both on the debate stage and in the headlines.  It will not be easy to assuage their doubts about Cain in both arenas. 

And what if White is telling the truth?  If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s Republicans who act surprised by media double standards.  Of course White won’t be buried by helpful media allies, the way Gennifer Flowers was.  Who in their right minds could doubt it?  And what serious GOP candidate could imagine that Republican voters would adopt Democrat attitudes toward infidelity?  Having your moral standards challenged by cultural and political opponents stings less than having them taken for granted by your own candidates.

Even if all of the other allegations against Cain were entirely bogus, if this one turns out to be true, he was off his rocker to remain in the race.  If it’s not true, Cain has very little time to demolish the allegations before the primaries begin.  As always, it’s appropriate to maintain an open mind and consider all the evidence before reaching a conclusion.  Unfortunately, that’s increasingly difficult advice to embrace with so much water under the bridge, so little time on the clock, and someone else sitting at the top of the polls.