HERMAN CAIN, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Someone offered her a lot of money.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
H. CAIN: I was helping her with month-to-month bills and expenses. Somebody — this is speculation only…
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
H. CAIN: … have no proof — offered her a lot of money. And one of my objectives is to clear my name and my reputation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAWRENCE O’DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: That was Herman Cain in New Hampshire today. Joining me now, the woman at the center of the latest Herman Cain controversy, Ginger White, who this week revealed her 13-year relationship with Herman Cain.
She is joined by her lawyer, Edward Buckley.
Thank you both very much for joining me tonight.
GINGER WHITE, FRIEND OF HERMAN CAIN: Thank you.
EDWARD BUCKLEY, ATTORNEY FOR GINGER WHITE: Thank you for having us.
O’DONNELL: Ginger White, Herman Cain has said tonight that he believes you were offered a very large amount of money to come out and tell this story. Is that why you’re telling this story?
WHITE: Absolutely not. No one has offered me anything. So that is — that is false.
O’DONNELL: He knows you well. What does it feel like for you to see him talking about you that way?
WHITE: It’s very hurtful, very hurtful.
O’DONNELL: Now he has acknowledged that he has known you for 13 years. He calls it a 13-year friendship. And so the difference that we’re — that’s being argued over right is what was the nature of that friendship, and you’re saying it was — involved a romantic affair that was on and off over those 13 years.
When you hear Herman Cain in every interview he’s given — he gave one on FOX News the other night, and then tonight — essentially calling you a liar, how does that make you feel?
WHITE: Well, it doesn’t make me feel very good. However, at the end of the day, I know that I am telling the truth. I would never come out with something like this if it wasn’t true. Honestly, I didn’t want to come out with this. And I know that travel was involved and sex was involved. I would never lie about that.
O’DONNELL: Now Herman Cain’s lawyer has demanded that you reveal the phone records that you have.
You have supplied us with some phone records here of October and November of this year, 37 text messages in the October records and one phone call on October 18th; 46 text messages in November, with no phone calls in the records on November, a total of 83 text messages over that period of time.
It — that’s a — that is a high number by anyone’s count. And Herman Cain is suggesting that that was about nothing other than you texting him, asking for help with the rent and maybe car payments.
WHITE: Pretty much that’s true. Our relationship had faded. Our sexual relationship had faded out a bit, which I was very fine with, and so the last 21/2 years, yes. We would text back and forth. He would help me monthly.
Most times he would be traveling, and when there were several texts, it was just he and I trying to get our schedules together to where we could meet and he would, you know, help me out with money for bills and various things. So, yes, that is correct.
O’DONNELL: Let’s listen to Herman Cain’s description in New Hampshire today about how you met.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
H. CAIN: We met years ago at a conference that she was one of the organizers and I was a keynote speaker, a keynote speaker at a conference in Louisville, Kentucky. That’s already out there, many, many years ago, and because I didn’t have an entourage when I was traveling around giving keynote speeches, she had my contact information. So she stayed in touch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O’DONNELL: What’s your reaction to that?
WHITE: Well, we did meet in Louisville, Kentucky, at the Black Achievers — at a function there. And the thing is, I — he gave me his contact information. I didn’t already have it. I didn’t get it from anyone else but Mr. Cain. As a matter of fact, shortly after that meeting, we — he flew me to Palm Springs, California. So I think that he is, you know, telling just parts of the truth.
O’DONNELL: And when he flew you to Palm Springs, California, is that where the romantic relationship began?
WHITE: Yes, it did.
O’DONNELL: And do you know who paid for that plane ticket? We’ve actually asked the restaurant association that he was working for whether they were paying for your plane tickets, and they are telling us that they don’t have expense receipts going back that long.
WHITE: I have no idea. I have no idea.
O’DONNELL: And when you traveled with him at other times, did you ever fly with him to — were you ever on the same plane with him?
WHITE: No, I would always meet him. He would send me the ticket, and I would meet him at whatever location he was staying at.
O’DONNELL: And did and of your family and friends know that you were jetting off to meet Herman Cain somewhere?
WHITE: My family knew, as I have two sisters. And either my sisters would keep my kids for the weekend. I wanted to make sure that my kids were safe and they were in good hands. And, yes, my sisters, my brother and my mother were aware of this relationship.
O’DONNELL: I’d like you to listen to Herman Cain today. I think we have this sound of him today, discussing the question of exactly how much money he gave you over the years.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How much money did you give her?
H. CAIN: Well, I — because of my attorney and because of some things that we are looking at, I can’t talk about that at this particular point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O’DONNELL: I can tell you, Ginger White, that that is not a common answer in interviews with presidential candidates, “I can’t answer because of my lawyer tells me not to.” Can you remember or tell us what you think the total amounts of money or in a given year what — how much money he would end up giving you to help you get by?
WHITE: Honestly, I’d rather not say. I don’t have an exact amount. So I — you know, I’m just not sure exactly.
O’DONNELL: Did he give you that money in cash?
WHITE: Yes. He did.
O’DONNELL: Always in cash?
WHITE: Always in cash.
O’DONNELL: And he said that he has given — he has helped other people this way. Has he — did he ever discuss with you helping other people in a similar way?
WHITE: He never — and a similar way would be sleeping with a person and then helping them financially. That’s how he was helping me, so I can’t say that he ever said that, no.
O’DONNELL: When you heard the stories that came out about the charges of sexual harassment, in particular when you heard the story of the woman who met Herman Cain under similar circumstances to yours at an event, where he was speaking.
And then she later found herself in a car with him in Washington, and he became very physically aggressive with her, did that sound like the Herman Cain that you knew?
WHITE: Herman Cain was never aggressive with me in that manner or any manner at all. The way they met, possibly, you know, there may have been some similarities.
He is a very friendly person. He is funny. He has a personality that, you know, he enjoys meeting people and, yes, I’m sure — I’m not exactly sure what her situation was and how they met, but if it was a social function similar to mine, then, yes, it made me think, wow. Funny.
O’DONNELL: In your intimate time together, did he find himself discussing his family with you?
WHITE: We never discussed his family, no.
O’DONNELL: And he never discussed his wife?
WHITE: He mentioned her name a couple of times, just in passing, you know, maybe very random conversations. But it was never anything that we really spent a whole lot of time on.
O’DONNELL: And Atlanta’s not the biggest town in the world. Did you ever run into her, ever in a — the same store together or see her at a restaurant or anything like that?
WHITE: No. No, never. And I never really knew what she looked like until, you know, she was appearing on the television with Herman. So I never knew what she looked like.
O’DONNELL: Let’s take a look at that. We have a clip of her when she appeared, discussing these charges against Herman Cain. Let’s look at that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLORIA CAIN, WIFE OF HERMAN CAIN: There were such ugly things said. And I kept thinking, who are these people talking about? This isn’t Herman.
And I know the person that he is. And I know that the person that they were talking about, I don’t know who that person is. And we’ve been married for 43 years. And if I haven’t seen part of that person in 43 years, I don’t think I’m that simple that I would miss something that significant.
I keep going back to — now in the beginning, I started thinking in my mind, could I have missed something? But then I always go back to the beginning. No, I’m not missing anything. I know Herman. I know him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O’DONNELL: Ginger, how did you feel when you saw her give that interview?
WHITE: I never saw the interview. And just listening to that, you never really know a person, obviously. And that’s really all I have to say on that. I’m — I would be surprised if she is surprised by this, honestly speaking. I would be surprised.
O’DONNELL: Is there anything you would like to say to Gloria Cain tonight?
O’DONNELL: All right…
WHITE: I have — I have no comment.
O’DONNELL: OK. We’re going to take a break here, Ginger White and her attorney, Edward Buckley, please stay with us. We’re going to be back with more after this break.
LAWRENCE O’DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: And we’re back with Ginger White, who this week revealed her 13-year relationship with Herman Cain. She is joined by her lawyer, Edward Buckley.
Ginger, I wanted you to listen to what Herman Cain said today in this interview about how the future of his campaign is essentially up to his wife. Let’s listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If your wife asks you to please get out, are you out?
HERMAN CAIN, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
CAIN: But my wife wouldn’t ask me to get out. She wouldn’t ask me to get out. I would make a decision based upon how all of this stuff is affecting her, because I will put her first. But she’s not the type to say you ought to get out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O’DONNELL: Ginger, give us some insight into this man. What I’m hearing there is a man who at first is saying yes, instantaneously yes, if my wife wants me out, I’m out.
But then, he tries to keep control of the situation by saying, “My wife would never ask me to do that,” if I get out, it really will be my decision. I mean, I’m hearing a guy who’s trying to have both sides of this at the same time. Is that, in your experience, a common way Herman Cain responds to things?
WHITE: Herman is definitely a person that knows what he wants, and he goes after it. And I would really be surprised if there was ever any situation that someone else called the shots for him. He just has — his personality, as far as when he has been with me, has been — he’s very sure of himself and, you know, I would like to actually make this comment.
Before the commercial break, you asked me, you know, what would I say to Ms. Cain, and you are the first person that’s asked that question, so it really took me aback, because I am not a cold-hearted person. I’m a mother of two kids.
And of course, my heart bleeds for this woman because I am a woman and being in a situation like this cannot be fun. And I am deeply, deeply sorry if I have caused any hurt to her and to his kids, to his family. That was not my intention. I never wanted to hurt anyone. And I’m deeply sorry. I’m very sorry.
O’DONNELL: Well, Ginger, I’m glad the commercial break gave you a chance to think about that. And just as we talk here, please feel free to go back and add to or any answer you give.
I know you’re not someone who’s been doing television interviews your whole life, and so I just want you to be comfortable and interrupt me at any point that you want to when there’s something you want to say, or something you want to add.
Is it — is it your sense that knowing Herman the way you do, that he will have a conversation with his wife this weekend, and knowing everything you know about this, where it stands right now, what do you think he will decide to do?
WHITE: You know, I’m really not quite sure. I do believe him when he says he will have that discussion. He has never appeared to be a quitter. He, you know, is a person that pretty much, as I said, goes after whatever he wants.
However, I will — whatever decision is made, I will respect that decision. As I’ve said many times before, this has never been political. This has been a very, very difficult situation for me, for my family, his family. It’s been very tough. So whatever decision the Cain family makes is their decision and I will respect that decision. I have — I will respect it.
O’DONNELL: Herman Cain has described you as desperate. He’s said that you’ve obviously, he believes, doing this for money. He’s also said that he has absolutely no evidence of that, which is kind of a trademark of his, saying things that he has no evidence for.
But let’s get back to why you did reveal this, and I’m going to just kind of quickly track for you my understanding of it. It’s that word had leaked out, your sisters knew about it, some friends of yours knew about it over the years, and someone had let local media know about it, probably somewhere in your network of friends, or who knows.
And local media was closing in on you with questions and the local affiliate in Atlanta was going to go with a story about this, whether you cooperated or not. And it was only at that point — this is my understanding — it was only at that point that you decided to do an interview with that television station.
WHITE: That’s correct. I was — there was a leak, several leaks, I’m not exactly sure who, what, you know, how that came to be. I was very concerned. I was very worried, because I didn’t want my life to be thrown out there in front of everyone.
I do lead a very — a pretty private life. I mean, I — I’m a very simple person. And I didn’t want to hurt his family. I didn’t want to hurt anyone. And so when this — you know, when I was getting these phone calls and things like that, it was just really, really tough. It was a tough decision. Many sleepless nights, many sleepless nights, many tears dropped.
And I had to sit my kids down. I have a daughter that’s 20 and my son is 18. And you can’t imagine how tough that conversation was to share something so personal, so private.
And also inappropriate, you know, when I’m trying to teach my kids to do the right thing, and here I’m having to sit down and look at them and say, you know what? Mommy really screwed up, and I hope that you can forgive me. I hope you understand. And I hope you will support this decision.
And I talked with my family and they’re very supportive, as it’s been tough. It’s been very tough on everyone involved. So this was not, again, something that I wanted to come out with. And I have not received a dime for any of this. I just wouldn’t do that.
O’DONNELL: To get back to your relationship with Herman Cain, which he now says was just a friendship and you’ve told us it was not that, it was a romantic relationship, in effect, an affair during 13 years of his marriage. How strongly — describe your feelings for each other at the peak of this affair? Did Herman Cain tell you he loved you?
WHITE: Never. And nor did I tell him that I loved him. It wasn’t a love affair. It was a sexual affair, as hard as that is for me to say and as hard as it is for people to hear it. You know, it pretty much is what it is. And that’s what it was.
O’DONNELL: And I assume he was a fun guy. He’s a — he bursts into song and he seems like a pretty funny guy. It was a — so I’m getting the feeling it was a lighthearted, easygoing, fun affair as far as it went with no expectations on either end.
WHITE: Exactly. You know, when I met Herman, I entered into this relationship, friendship, pretty much knowing, you know, number one, what you’re doing is wrong, and number two, I was very intrigued. He’s a very intelligent man. He is very fun loving.
And he offered me a getaway, you know, a getaway from the, you know, the normal day-to-day, you know, hustle and bustle. And so he would send me tickets and he would fly me off, and we’d have a pretty simple weekend. And I’d return back home. He’d go back to his home, and we would, you know, I would go on with my life as normal. So it was pretty simple.
O’DONNELL: When you were in Atlanta, did you carry on romantically in Atlanta?
WHITE: We had a few times, yes.
O’DONNELL: And how did you do that in Atlanta? Were hotel rooms involved? Would there be records of that?
WHITE: Hotel rooms. I have no record of it. So, but yes, hotel rooms and there was just a few times here in Atlanta. There, again, it was mostly in the very beginning that it was pretty consistent for a while there.
And then when I — last, you know, couple of years, as I said, we, you know, met a couple of times sexually. Now we would have lunch. We would have a dinner, something like that. But this by no means was a love affair. And as I said, it was just a casual, inappropriate affair.
O’DONNELL: But it was certainly a friendship, you would agree with at least that characterization that Herman Cain has given it?
WHITE: You know, I thought — I thought we were friends, and he made a comment to me — and he laughed after, so he may have just only been joking, but I said, wow, running for president, that’s pretty major. And I said, I guess we won’t be friends anymore, huh? He was like, “Yeah, probably not.” I was like, well. OK. At least you were honest.
So you know, it — he obviously was a friend, because he helped me. So — but at what level, I don’t know.
O’DONNELL: Now that you’ve heard him, in your view, lie about you publicly, if you could talk to Herman Cain tonight, what would you say to him?
WHITE: That I honestly can’t believe that, you know, I mean, it’s — it was very hard for me to come out with this and, you know, ‘fess up to something that I had done. I — I’m pretty straightforward and, you know, I have a conscience. And it just — I’m surprised that he hasn’t — that he’s treating me as if I’m lying about this, that does bother me. It bothers me, yes.
O’DONNELL: Ginger White, thank you very, very much for joining us tonight, and your attorney, Edward Buckley, thank you also for helping us with this interview tonight. Thank you both. I really appreciate your being here.
WHITE: Thank you.
BUCKLEY: You’re welcome.
WHITE: Thank you very much.
O’DONNELL: You can find the entirety of this interview on our website tonight, thelastword.msnbc.com. We’ll be back.