Embattled Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain told his staff Tuesday he is "reassessing" the viability of his campaign in the wake of a new allegations he engaged in a lengthy extramarital affair, CNN has learned.
One top campaign source told CNN he expects a decision "within a few days," based on whether Cain's fund-raising dries up.
Another source familiar with internal campaign deliberations told CNN the question now is "money and support." The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the already small campaign operation would likely have to lay off some staffers.
"We just staffed up some, but at a minimum it looks like (there is) no choice but to staff down," the source said. "We are in the period of the campaign where we need to spend to perform, and the question is will donors and Republicans believe" Cain or his newest accuser.
Cain spoke directly to his staff for about 10 minutes in a meeting and conference call Tuesday morning. He said during the meeting that mounting allegations of sexual impropriety "are taking an emotional toll on his family and that this is a very difficult time," according to Cain's Iowa chairman, Steve Grubbs.
The candidate noted, however, that he intends to go forward with a planned speech in Michigan later Tuesday.
On Monday, Atlanta businesswoman Ginger White accused Cain of having had an affair with her that lasted nearly 14 years, a claim Cain immediately denied.
"I was aware that he was married, and I was also aware that I was involved in a very inappropriate situation -- relationship," White told Atlanta television station WAGA.
White also confirmed to CNN affiliate WSB that she had a sexual relationship with Cain, countering Cain's claims that the relationship was just a friendship
"Absolutely," White said when asked by the affiliate if the relationship was sexual. "I can't imagine him confirming. It's the name of the game I guess."
White told WAGA the affair ended about eight months ago, as Cain prepared to announce his presidential bid. But she pointed to mobile phone records she said prove Cain was calling her as late as September, including one call as early as 4:26 a.m.
Cain, who lives in suburban Atlanta, told his staff Tuesday that White was "a friend and he helped her financially but that nothing inappropriate took place."
He also upstaged WAGA's report Monday by going on CNN a few minutes before the station broadcast its interview with White.
Cain told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room" that White is merely "someone that I know who is an acquaintance that I thought was a friend.
"I acknowledge that I have known her for about that period of time," Cain said. "But the accusation that I had a 13-year affair with her, no."
The candidate said his wife's immediate reaction upon hearing of the accusation was, "Here we go again." And he said he had no plans to drop out of the race.
"Not as long as my wife is behind me and as long as my wife believes I should stay in this race," he said.
In a written statement issued after the interview aired, Cain said, "I will not fight false claims as it is not what America needs or wants."
"The American public is tired of dirty politics and smear tactics as evident of their tremendous outpouring of support for me, my family and my campaign this past month," he said. "I am running for president of the United States of America, and the reality is that there are individuals out there that favor the status quo of higher taxes, more government and political cronyism and they are afraid of a Cain presidency."
White's emergence comes after two other women -- Sharon Bialek and Karen Kraushaar -- came forward earlier this month to accuse Cain of sexually harassing them in the 1990s while he was head of the National Restaurant Association. Two other women also have claimed Cain sexually harassed them while they worked at the association, but they have so far declined to be identified.
Cain has denied all accusations against him, but he has slipped in published polls since the allegations first surfaced.
"He's been able to hang in there partly by playing the victim himself, (but) it's going to be very hard for him to hang onto that victim scenario given that he was in constant contact with this woman," argued GOP strategist Karen Hanretty.
White said she was never harassed or poorly treated by Cain, whom she described as "very much confident, and very much sure of himself, very arrogant -- in a playful, sometimes, way."
She said he took her to luxury hotels and flew her to cities where he had speaking engagements.
"He made it very intriguing," White said in the interview. "It was fun. It was something that took me away from my sort-of humdrum life at the time, and it was exciting."
In a statement to WAGA, Cain attorney Lin Wood said reporters had no business asking about the allegation.
"This is not an accusation of harassment in the workplace. This is not an accusation of an assault, which are subject matters of legitimate inquiry to a political candidate," he said. "Rather, this appears to be an accusation of private, alleged consensual conduct between adults -- a subject matter which is not a proper subject of inquiry by the media or the public.
"No individual, whether a private citizen, a candidate for public office or a public official, should be questioned about his or her private sexual life," Wood 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 did not address White's assertion directly and said Cain "has no obligation to discuss these types of accusations publicly with the media.
"Some things are fair game and some aren't," Wood told CNN in a telephone interview, adding that this was one that was off-limits. "You've got to draw the line somewhere."
White told WAGA that she was a reluctant accuser who decided to go public only after her name was circulated among reporters. But she also said she was upset by Cain's responses to the sexual harassment allegations from two women who have been identified publicly.
"It bothered me that they were being demonized, sort of, or were being treated as if they were automatically lying and the burden of proof is on them," White said.
WAGA said it and other news organizations had received a tip from someone who knew White, alleging she had had an affair with Cain.
"I wanted to come out and give my side before it was thrown out there and made to be something, you know, filthy, which some people will look at this and say, that's exactly what it is," White told the station.
She said their on-again, off-again relationship allegedly began in Louisville, Kentucky, in the late 1990s, when Cain gave a National Restaurant Association presentation to a group that included White. Afterward, the two shared drinks and Cain invited her back to his hotel room, where he pulled out a calendar and invited her to meet him in Palm Springs, California, she said.
WAGA said White's work history includes a 2001 sexual harassment claim against an employer that was settled, a 23-year-old bankruptcy in Kentucky and several evictions over the past six years. A former business partner accused her of stalking her with repeated e-mails and texts in a case that was ultimately dismissed, followed by a libel suit White lost because she failed to respond to it, WAGA said.
But White's attorney, Edward Buckley, told CNN's "John King USA" that his client has no apparent financial motive for making the accusation and "everything to lose."
"To tell you candidly, I don't know if she is employed or not, because she was kind of on the ropes because of all this stuff," Buckley said. "The media called her employer before this story came out, and it made it very difficult for her in the workplace."
And prominent feminist attorney Gloria Allred, who represents one of the women who accused Cain of harassment, said White's financial troubles mean "zero, zip, nada."
"There are millions of women in this country and millions of men as well having financial problems," she told CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight." "The fact that she's had them in the past does not bear on whether or not she's credible on this issue."
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