Herman Cain told members of his staff that he is “reassessing” his decision to remain in the race for the Republican presidential nomination following new allegations that he conducted a 13-year-long affair with an Atlanta businesswoman.
Cain said on a conference call Tuesday morning, with around 90 supporters listening, that he was concerned the story would cause “too much of a cloud," according to multiple media reports.
Cain's campaign said later Tuesday that the "reassessment" was similar to other low points in the campaign, but did not imply that Cain was considering dropping out.
"It’s a reassessment of where we stand and the road ahead, similar to other times in the campaign’s history," Cain spokesman J.D. Gordon said in a statement. "We're looking forward to getting back on message tonight with the Foreign Policy and National Security speech at Hillsdale College in Michigan."
During the conference call, Cain implied that the campaign reevaluated its situation after every major event.
"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," Cain said. "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,” he said.
But the latest allegations could have had a more profound impact on the candidate, with Cain acknowledging that the story has "taken a toll on my wife and family, as you would imagine."
In an interview Monday, Cain said that he would not consider dropping out of the Republican race unless his family indicated it wanted him to leave the campaign.
“As long as my wife is behind me, I’m staying in this race,” he said on CNN. “If I drop out because of this kind of mess … the system wins.”
“Any time you put another cloud of doubt, unfortunately, in the court of public opinion you’re guilty until proven innocent,” Cain said. “The public is going to have to decide whether they believe her or whether they believe me. That’s why we’re going to give it time, to see what type of response we get from our supporters."
But for now, Cain seems poised to continue forward with the campaign.
“If a decision is made, different than, ‘We should plow ahead,’ you all will be the first to know,” Cain said on the call.
The former businessman also emphasized that “we have not lost our enthusiasm at this point” and noted that he planned to deliver a speech Tuesday night “with vim, vigor and enthusiasm.”
"We are going to reassess things over the next several days and we will contact you over the next several days and let you know positive, negative whatever the case may be. But as I said, I’m going to continue [my] schedule as planned.”
The story was first reported by the National Review, which provided a transcript of the call, and later confirmed by campaign manager Mark Block to ABC News.
Ginger White, an Atlanta businesswoman, claimed Monday that she and Cain had engaged in a prolonged affair during which Cain would fly her across the country and lavish her with gifts and expensive dinners. Cain denied the story in an interview Monday with CNN, although White provided Fox 5 Atlanta, which broke her story, with phone and text-messaging records that detail dozens of correspondences — some very late at night — between White and Cain.
The damage of the latest allegations, coupled with already slipping poll numbers, might yet persuade Cain to exit the campaign.
—This story was posted at 11:40 a.m. and has been updated.