Republican presidential contender Herman Cain told his staff Tuesday he was reassessing the future of his campaign after a woman accused him of having a 13-year affair, a senior adviser said.

 

Cain, who already has been hit by allegations of sexual harassment, has denied he had an affair. The woman, Ginger White, told a local Atlanta television station that her on-and-off affair with Cain began in the mid-1990s.

 

Cain, a leading candidate until recently, has nose-dived in polls of the Republican race for the right to challenge President Barack Obama in 2012 after a series of harassment allegations and campaign missteps.

 

On a conference call with staff members, the former pizza executive said he would continue with his campaign schedule in the next few days while he conducts his reassessment.

 

"Obviously, this is cause for reassessment," Cain told staff members, according to a transcript of the call published by the conservative magazine National Review.

 

"If a decision is made, different than to plow ahead, you all will be the first to know," he said.

The allegation of an affair comes five weeks before Iowa kicks off the Republican nominating battle, giving Cain little time to resurrect a campaign that led in polls in October.

Since then, Cain has been hit by sexual harassment allegations by four women and offered confusing comments about abortion and a badly fumbled question on Libya.

The charge of an affair differs from prior claims in that White is claiming a consensual long-term relationship.

White said the two met at a presentation Cain gave for the National Restaurant Association in Kentucky, and afterward the two had drinks. Cain invited her back to his hotel, she said, and the relationship took off.

The woman provided cell phone bills showing calls to a number she said was Cain's personal mobile phone. A reporter for the television station called that number and reached Cain, he said.