DAYTON, OH – Herman Cain gave no indication Wednesday afternoon that he is planning to drop out of the presidential contest over an allegation that he carried on a longterm extra-marital affair, despite having said earlier in the day that he was “reassessing” his candidacy.
In a 30-minute campaign speech, Cain repeatedly referred to a future Cain administration and at one point said “I want to be president.” He dismissed what he called attempts at “character assassination” and made a plea for the American people to “raise some Cain!”
Cain alluded only briefly and indirectly to the alleged affair, and previous allegations that he sexually harassed female subordinates while serving as head of the National Restaurant Association.
“They want you to believe if they do enough character assassination on me, I’m going to drop out,” the Republican hopeful said of his critics to dozens of supporters who filled a hotel ballroom here Wednesday afternoon. “I happen to believe that the American people have a different idea.”
Cain’s campaign manager, Mark Block, had told ABC News on Tuesday that the Dayton speech would include an outline of the candidate’s “strategic reassessment” of the campaign. But it sounded very much like the stump speech he has delivered repeatedly throughout the campaign.
This week, an Atlanta woman alleged to Fox 5 News in Atlanta that she had had a 13-year affair with the married businessman that ended just eight months ago, as he was gearing up his presidential campaign. The woman, Ginger White, produced phone records she said substantiated her claim.
Cain has flatly denied the allegations, accusing the women of lying and his critics of manufacturing personal attacks to sink his candidacy.
Still, he told supporters this week that the controversies were taking a toll on his family and that the allegations may have done irreparable damage to his reputation. As recently as Wednesday morning, Cain told reporters he was still “reassessing” and “reevaluating” his candidacy.
He gave little indication of any soul-searching Wednesday afternoon, however, sticking primarily to the themes that appear regularly in his stump speeches. He touted his 9-9-9 tax reform plan and related his philosophy on foreign policy, which had emerged as his weakest issue. He spoke of the country’s “moral strength” and decried efforts to remove God from the public sphere.
Supporters said they were overjoyed that Cain did not sound like a man about to throw in the towel. “I think what he was looking for was this – support from the people, that we believe you and not some unsubstantiated headlines,” said John Morris, 64, a retired teacher and Air Force officer from nearby Beaver Creek.