Herman Cain was hoping to sprint back to the front of the 2012 Republican presidential field with a new ad for his 9-9-9 tax plan and a week of showcasing his new foreign policy mettle. That plan went out the window on Monday afternoon, when Cain himself tipped off CNN that he was about to face allegations that he had a long extramarital affair. An hour later, Atlanta's FOX 5 TV aired an interview with Atlanta businesswoman Ginger White, who said she and Cain were lovers for 13 years. She said the affair only stopped eight months ago, and that she has phone records and other proof. Cain admitted that he knew White, but denied an affair, just as his lawyer, Lin Wood, issued "a classic non-denial denial" that said "private, alleged consensual conduct between adults" is nobody's business. Cain says he'll stay in the GOP race as long as his wife is behind him. But is the Cain train finally derailed?
This won't hurt Cain too badly: "Round Two of the Herman Cain sex scandal" isn't as bad as Round One, says Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway. A consensual affair isn't as serious as alleged sexual assault or harassment, and the Cain campaign was "actually pretty smart in pre-empting" the report on White — suggesting it has belatedly learned how to handle a sex scandal. If there's no Round Three, Cain is probably in no worse shape than before.
"Woman claims 13-year affair with Herman Cain"
Are you kidding? Cain is finished: The Hermanator's "campaign was already fading," says Howard Kurtz at The Daily Beast, and this is "the tipping point" that will send it into the abyss. The White dalliance is the fifth allegation of sexual impropriety against Cain, and his lawyer's de facto confirmation of the affair casts "serious doubt" on Cain's insistence that the other women's accusations are "entirely made up." His credibility in tatters, "Cain's brief moment in the political sun is over."
"Cain's 'consensual' conduct with accuser"
In this wild race, we can't count Cain out: Cain has already survived "the type of headlines that would have long driven most candidates from the race," says Nia-Malika Henderson in The Washington Post. Consider the crazy unpredictability of the GOP nomination fight so far. Being "broke, staffless, left for dead... saddled with personal baggage, and written off" by party and pundits seems to make you ripe to "pull a Lazarus" — or perhaps, "pull a Gingrich." Put logic aside, because Cain could still rise again.
"Can Cain pull a Gingrich?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Why the West should let Russia have eastern Ukraine
- 9 Harvard dropouts who became fabulously successful
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- The dangers of our passionless American life
- The real reason conservatives should be outraged that police killed a white youth
- How China sparked an Asian frenzy for killer submarines
- The amazing resurrection of Mitt Romney
- The essential techniques that every home cook should know
Subscribe to the Week