An Atlanta woman claimed Monday that she has had long-term affair with Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain and has the records to prove it, an accusation that delivers another blow to the former corporate CEO's campaign.
Cain vehemently denied the allegation during an interview on CNN before the woman's story aired on an Atlanta television station.
He described her as a "friend," but said their relationship was not sexual. "I have nothing to hide," he told CNN.
Ginger White told Fox 5 News in Atlanta that she and Cain were involved in a physical relationship for 13 years.
"It was pretty simple," she told reporter Dale Russell. "It wasn't complicated. I was aware that he was married. And I was also aware I was involved in a very inappropriate, um, situation, relationship."
She said the alleged affair took her out of her "humdrum" life, and said, "It was exciting."
The Atlanta reporter said that national news outlets have been pursuing White for her story, and that she gave the TV station documentation of her alleged relationship with Cain.
The affair assertion follows allegations that Cain sexually harassed four women, including two who received cash payments to settle their complaints against him when he ran National Restaurant Association in the late 1990s.
Though Cain, who has been married 43 years, vehemently denied White's accusation, his attorney was not so clear.
In a statement to the Atlanta TV station, lawyer Lin Wood said White's accusation was about "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.
Cain, during his pre-emptive interview with CNN, said he had spoken with his wife about the new allegations.
After the TV station aired its interview, the Cain campaign released a statement characterizing White's allegation as an effort to "derail the Cain Train."
The statement said: "The Cain campaign is not surprised that another female accuser has come forward due to the fact that earlier allegations were unable to force Herman Cain to drop his presidential bid to renew America."
The former head of Godfather's Pizza briefly surged to the top tier of national GOP presidential polls with charismatic appearances, a proposed remake of the nation's tax system that he dubbed 9-9-9, and high favorability ratings from prospective Republican voters.
Those numbers were hurt by the sexual harassment revelations in October — including by one woman who held a press conference to allege that Cain groped her after a dinner during which she asked for help finding a job.
His slide in the polls has been hastened by poor debate performances, and other appearances during which he appeared ill-prepared to answer questions on issues ranging from Libya to his position on abortion.
White told the Atlanta TV reporter that she is "not proud" of the incident and that she did not want to reveal her story but was worried that a political firestorm would engulf her.
She said she met Cain in the late 1990s when, as president of the National Restaurant Association, he was in Kentucky to make a presentation. They had drinks, she said, and he invited her back to his hotel room.
She alleges that they made plans to meet again in Palm Springs, Calif., and the affair began.
During the following 13 years, she says he would fly her to cities where he was appearing and shower her with gifts. They stayed at high-end hotels like the Ritz-Carlton in Buckhead, Ga., she claims, and dined at The Four Seasons restaurant.
The relationship, she says, ended about eight months ago, before Cain announced his presidential run.
White provided the television station with cell phone bills that she says contains evidence of frequent contact with Cain, including some from as recently as September.
Fox 5 said it texted the number White provided, and Cain called them back. He told the station that White's assertions are "more false allegations."
Cain said he had White's number because he was "trying to help her financially."
White claimed she planned to keep the relationship a secret, but she said she was troubled by the way Cain responded to the women who had accused him of sexual harassment.
"It bothered me that they were being demonized, sort of," she said. "They were treated as if they were automatically lying, and the burden of proof was on them."
The Atlanta station said that it was tipped off about the alleged affair by someone who knows White and that the tipster contacted other media outlets.
White told the station that she felt trapped.
"I wanted to give out my side, before it was thrown out there and made out to be something filthy," she told the station.
White, who is unemployed, is a single mother with two children. According to Fox 5, she settled a sexual harassment complaint against an employer in 2001, and filed for bankruptcy nearly 23 years ago in Kentucky. The station also found a lawsuit filed against White by a former business partner who sought a "stalking temporary protective order."