Herman Cain takes the stage at the start of the CNN GOP National Security… (Jim Bourg / Reuters )
Herman Cain, rocked by another allegation of infidelity, reportedly told senior advisers that he is considering ending his bid for president.
According to a transcript provided by the National Review Online, which listened in on conference call between Cain and his top aides, Cain denied "unequivocally" an Atlanta woman's claim that the two had engaged in a 13-year affair. He instead described it as a "friendship relationship," and said he was helping her financially.
"That being said, obviously, this is cause for reassessment," he said, according to the report. "We have to do an assessment as to whether or not this is going to create too much of a cloud, in some people's minds, as to whether or not they would be able to support us going forth," Cain said.
In the near term, Cain said he would press ahead with his schedule, including a major foreign policy speech in Michigan tonight. His assessment will carry on "over the next several days."
"If a decision is made, different than to plow ahead, you all will be the first to know," he said.
Though Cain has long denied the series of allegations against him, he reportedly told aides that they have "taken an emotional toll" on him.
"It's also taken a toll on my wife and family, as you would imagine. Any time you put another cloud of doubt, unfortunately, in the court of public opinion, for some people, you're guilty until proven innocent," he said. "And so, the public will have to decide whether they believe her or whether they believe me. That's why we're going to give it time, to see what type of response we get from our supporters."
When reports of past sexual harassment claims first surfaced in Politico last month, Cain's campaign appeared unaffected -- and perhaps even benefitted from a rallying of support amongst his most committed backers.
But additional claims, coupled with an embarrassing episode during a newspaper interview, have resulted in an ominous downward trend line of Cain's poll numbers.
Cain's speech tonight is set for Hillsdale College in Michigan.