US & Canada

Herman Cain 'reassessing White House campaign'

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Media captionGinger White: "There were threats of people coming out with their version"

Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain is "reassessing" his White House campaign amid a claim he had a 13-year affair, he has told aides.

A 46-year-old woman, Ginger White, said on Monday that she had a relationship with Mr Cain, who is married.

In recent weeks Mr Cain has also faced a series of allegations of sexual harassment dating from his time as head of a restaurant lobby group.

Mr Cain has denied Ms White's story and all claims of sexual harassment.

Before the accusations began to emerge, the Georgia businessman had enjoyed a lead in several opinion polls.

But since then he has seen his ratings slip, while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has surged.

In the event that Mr Cain quits the race, it is not clear which candidate would benefit most.

But Mr Gingrich rose to a new high in a Gallup opinion poll on Tuesday, while former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who has maintained the steadiest lead, was down.

In a conference call with campaign staff on Tuesday, Mr Cain once again denied that he had ever had a sexual relationship with Ms White.

"I deny those charges, unequivocally," he said.

"That being said, obviously, this is cause for reassessment," he added.

"We have to do an assessment as to whether or not this is going to create too much of a cloud, in some people's minds, as to whether or not they would be able to support us going forth."

He concluded by telling his team: "If a decision is made, different than to plough ahead, you all will be the first to know."

'Consensual conduct'

Ms White said in an interview on Monday evening with an Atlanta-based TV channel that her alleged relationship with the presidential hopeful had been "pretty simple".

"I was aware that he was married," she said. "And I was also aware I was involved in a very inappropriate situation, relationship."

Image caption Ginger White claims Herman Cain paid for her flights to meet him

She also said their relationship ended about eight months ago, shortly before Mr Cain announced he would be running for the White House.

Hours before her interview was due to air, Mr Cain appeared on CNN and denied the allegations pre-emptively.

He acknowledged that he had known his accuser for some time and had helped her financially, but maintained their relationship had never been romantic.

"Here we go again. I didn't do anything wrong," Mr Cain said.

However, a statement from Lin Wood, the candidate's lawyer, did not attempt to deny Ms White's accusations.

It said: "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."

He described the woman's story as "an accusation of private, alleged consensual conduct between adults", which was not a "proper subject of inquiry by the media or the public".

Ms White's allegations follow accusations from four women that Mr Cain sexually harassed them during his tenure as head of a restaurant lobby group in the 1990s.

He has admitted that a financial settlement was reached with one of his accusers, Karen Kraushaar.

Another woman, Sharon Bialek, went public with her accusation that Mr Cain groped her when she asked him for help finding a job.

Mr Cain has said all the allegations are "baseless" and that they were a "smear campaign" designed to sabotage his lead in opinion polls.