Is Herman Cain's up-and-down campaign over? On Monday, Nov. 28, after a woman named Ginger White claimed to have a 13-year relationship with the Republican presidential candidate, political pundits certainly thought the writing was on the wall, particularly after two conflicting PR messages emanated from the Cain camp. They were:
The Preemptive Denial: Even before White went public with her claim, Cain was warning CNN that he would soon be accused of carrying on an affair, and he vehemently denied it (a strategy that so far has kept him in the Republican running).
The "Nobody's Business" Defense: "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," Lin Wood, Cain's attorney, wrote after White's allegations were made public. "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. Mr. Cain has alerted his wife to this new accusation and discussed it with her. He has no obligation to discuss these types of accusations publicly with the media and he will not do so even if his principled position is viewed unfavorably by members of the media."
So after Cain denied having an affair, his lawyer comes very close to hinting just the opposite—maybe Cain had the affair but it should be a private matter.
Then there's the phone evidence: 61 phone calls or text messages displayed by White to or from a 678 number—which she said leads to Cain's private cell phone. Amazingly, when reporters texted one of the numbers, they got a callback from Cain himself. Lesson: There comes a time when you shouldn't be calling back unknown phone numbers.
But times have changed, as some pundits say Cain can weather this storm. These accusations are different from multiple women claiming sexual harassment, they say. It's well known that Republican challenger Newt Gingrich had at least two extramarital affairs—with women he later married (though not at the same time).
The question is, what can Cain say now, if anything, to clean up prior statements and keep himself in the race?