Herman Cain said that his wife was unaware that he was friends with — or provided money regularly to — Ginger White, the Atlanta businesswoman who said she and Cain had a 13-year extramarital affair.
Speaking to the editorial board of the New Hampshire Union Leader, Cain also said it was "an option" to leave the presidential race. Cain told supporters Wednesday that he was "reassessing" his campaign.
"My wife did not know about it, and that was the revelation. My wife found out about it when [White] went public with it," Cain said. "My wife now knows. My wife and I have talked about it and I have explained it to her. My wife understands that I'm a soft-hearted giving person."
He said that the dozens of text messages they exchanged were about financial matters, and that he absolutely did not have a sexual relationship with White.
"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.
Cain said that he could not reveal the amount of money he gave White on the advice of his legal counsel, but that the 17 documented text messages that he sent in recent months were inquiring about White's job prospects or financial state.
"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," Cain said. "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."
The former Godfather's Pizza CEO said that he had befriended White at a conference in Louisville, Ky., and said that although he did not know why White would claim an affair, he has a "very strong speculation" that she had been offered money to do so.
He said that White had not contacted him trying to blackmail him for money, and that his wife was "comfortable" with his explanation.
Still, Cain says he intends to meet with his family this weekend to gauge how the revelations were affecting them, and could still decide to drop out of the presidential race for their sake. Cain said Wednesday that he would make a final decision about leaving the race within a week.
“So, yes, getting out is an option," he said. Comments about reassessing the campaign were "just meant we're not going put the brakes on."
Cain said that his campaign continued to maintain strength.
“We weren’t slowing down. We’re keeping all commitments and we’re reassessing several things," Cain said.
During an interview on Fox News Wednesday, Cain said that while donations had slowed, many of his largest donors remained committed to the campaign.
"Donors and supporters, I mean the emails have been just overwhelming in terms of encouragement to stay, but I’ve got to think of my family first and that is why I am taking my time to do this reassessment and this reevaluation,” Cain told Fox.
Meanwhile, Cain continues to slip in national polls. A Rasmussen poll released this week showed Cain garnering 8 percent of the Republican vote, the first poll in months where the former businessman slipped to single-digit support. In that poll, Cain trailed front-runner Newt Gingrich by 30 percentage points.