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Published: Saturday, 12/3/2011

Cain poised to announce future of White House bid

Wake of sexual accusations

BLADE NEWS SERVICES
Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain has scheduled a news conference for Saturday to make an announcement to 'clarify what the next steps are.' Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain has scheduled a news conference for Saturday to make an announcement to 'clarify what the next steps are.'
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ATLANTA -- Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain is expected to announce Saturday whether he will continue his campaign in the wake of an accusation that he conducted a 13-year extramarital affair.

At a town-hall gathering in South Carolina Friday, Mr. Cain said he will make an announcement to "clarify what the next steps are."

A news conference had been scheduled for Saturday to highlight the opening of his national headquarters in Atlanta, as well as the announcement of his campaign's freshly minted senior leadership team in Georgia.

The Cain campaign also invited some of his supporters and donors to Atlanta on Saturday for a meeting in which he will give them advance word of whether he intends to continue his campaign, individuals close to the campaign said.

One adviser who has been summoned to the private session said he believes that Mr. Cain is likely to announce he is ending his candidacy.

Another who has been invited to the morning meeting said attendees have been told he has made no decision, but wanted to meet with some supporters to express his gratitude.

Mr. Cain arrived at his suburban Atlanta home Friday afternoon to talk with his wife of 42 years, Gloria, about whether to press on after his campaign was rocked by multiple sexual harassment allegations and this week's claim that he had a 13-year affair.

He denies wrongdoing.

It was their first face-to-face meeting since the allegation was made public.

In a speech earlier Friday in Rock Hill, S.C., Mr. Cain wouldn't disclose whether he would drop out but told supporters to stay tuned.

He said he would clarify the next steps of the campaign and assured backers the affair claim was "garbage."

But he also said he needed to consider what he would do with campaign donations already banked if he dropped out of the race.

"Nobody's going to make me make that prematurely," Mr. Cain said. "That's all there is to it."

"My wife and family comes first. I've got to take that into consideration," he added.

"If my wife says terminate the campaign, would I quit? Yes," Mr. Cain said Thursday on Fox News.

In an apparent signal that it had not given up the fight, the campaign Friday announced the creation of "Women for Cain," a group headed by Mr. Cain's wife, Gloria, and designed to "inspire a national women's alliance in support of Herman Cain for 2012," according to the campaign's Web site.

But the group was being ridiculed after media organizations noted that the photo of four women giving the thumbs-up signal on the Web site was not an image of Mr. Cain's supporters, but a stock photo. The group removed the photo from the site.

Mr. Cain, the former chief executive of Godfather's Pizza, enjoyed a brief reign at the top of the polls in part because rank-and-file Republican voters viewed him as a refreshing outsider.

But his campaign stumbled in early November, when Mr. Cain was accused of sexually harassing several women during his stint as head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s.

Mr. Cain also has committed a number of gaffes, including an excruciating interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board, in which the man who is running to be commander in chief appeared to be unacquainted with U.S. policy toward Libya.

The latest setback occurred this week when an Atlanta woman, Ginger White, went public with an accusation that she and Mr. Cain had conducted a 13-year consensual extramarital affair. She produced phone records indicating they had been in contact dozens of times.

Mr. Cain since has acknowledged giving Ms. White money to help her through difficult financial times.

He repeatedly has denied that he and Ms. White had a sexual relationship.

Steve Grubbs, who is overseeing Mr. Cain's Iowa operation, said the latest numbers from the Des Moines Register's Iowa poll are "not good" and are consistent with the campaign's internal analysis of the state of play there.

The poll showed Mr. Cain's support at 8 percent among likely Republican caucus-goers, dropping from the 23 percent he enjoyed when the poll was last conducted in late October.

The paper said it would report the other candidates' standing in the poll on Saturday night.

Mr. Grubbs said he believes Mr. Cain can still finish in the top three in the Iowa caucuses. He acknowledged Mr. Cain is now trailing well behind former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, after being at or near the top of the field.



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