WASHINGTON — Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain pressed on in the White House race Wednesday charging Democrats were out to torpedo him, but saying he would decide whether to quit in the coming days.
Cain, a former pizza company executive, is fending off allegations that he had a 13-year affair, which only ended earlier this year. He has denied the accusations, saying he was only friends with his accuser, Ginger White.
He has already faced a storm of allegations of sexually harassing several other women — all of which he has denied — and seen his ratings drop in the opinion polls after once having charged to the front of the pack.
“I don’t think that it is the Republicans that are trying to knock me out because they want (Newt) Gingrich to be the top of the ticket. I honestly believe the Republicans, we want a fair competition,” Cain told Fox television.
“I happen to think these attacks are coming from the other side because once I moved into the top tier, I think they became threatened,” Cain charged, adding: “My star was shining, and rising, too fast.”
Cain announced in a staff conference call on Tuesday that he was reassessing the viability of his bid for the Republican Party nomination to take on Democrat President Barack Obama in the November 2012 elections.
The 65-year-old rose dramatically in the polls in September and October, but his approval ratings have dipped since amid the series of accusations.
In the latest blow to his campaign, White, from Atlanta, alleged she had a 13-year affair with Cain, who is married, that ended just eight months ago.
White told ABC television Wednesday that she did not believe Cain would make a good president. “I honestly do not think that he … would make a good president, as far as I’m concerned,” she said.
Cain remained defiant and denied any sexual element to the relationship. White said their friendship included trips together to places like Palm Springs and Las Vegas, as well as Cain paying her rent.
“This is a character assassination on me. Why? Because I was doing so well,” Cain insisted. “Ginger White was having financial problems. And I was trying to help her. And, boom, she decides she will go public with this information.”
Cain did allow that White’s claims were taking a toll, and said he would spending the weekend assessing the situation with his family.
“Yes, it is weighing on me and my family, especially my family, because it continues to stir in the news. This is why we are going through the reassessment,” Cain said.
“A week from now I will have made a final decision,” he stressed, adding that he was still pulling in about $100,000 a week in campaign contributions.
“Maybe I am the Democrats’ worst nightmare if I win the nomination and as long as I am still low in the polls relative to the nomination this stuff doesn’t come out,” Cain said.
“It was only after I got in the top tier and lo and behold, there it came, and, in every case, they have not been able to prove the accusations were true.”
Should Cain drop out, the race would be on for rivals to snatch up his supporters.
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has been seen as the longtime frontrunner, but some recent polls have seen him eclipsed by Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House.
Gingrich, who has acknowledged his own past infidelity, spoke kindly of Cain Tuesday.
“No, he’s not disqualified…. I think that any candidate has the right to try to recover,” he told CBS News.