COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Set to meet with his wife for the first time since a woman came forward claiming she had a 13-year extramarital affair with him, Herman Cain is preparing for one last campaign stop before he decides whether to press forward with his bid for the Republican presidential nomination.
Cain, who has denied the affair and allegations of unwanted sexual advances from other women, planned a Friday afternoon campaign stop in Rock Hill, S.C., before heading home to Atlanta to assess whether the accusation of an affair would be enough to force him from the GOP contest. With a little more than a month before Iowa has its lead-off caucuses, time is working against the Georgia businessman as he tries to steady his campaign.
"I want to do the assessment that we've got to do. Every time a new bit of information comes up, that stimulates another story in the media and that hurts my family and my wife, and it hurts me," Cain told Fox News Channel on Thursday.
"I'm going to re-establish my reputation," he added.
It won't be easy, regardless of whether the allegations are true or not. Cain's standing in the polls is cratering, supporters are wavering and fundraising is limping.
Since Ginger White stepped forward Monday, the allegation of an affair has overshadowed Cain's campaign. He told The New Hampshire Union Leader that his wife, Gloria, did not know he was providing the 46-year-old Atlanta-area businesswoman with money for "month-to-month bills and expenses."
"Unfortunately, I'm a softy and I feel sorry for people when they get in deep financial trouble, especially given this economy," Cain later told Fox News.
White told MSNBC in an interview Thursday night that she was "deeply sorry" for causing Cain's wife or other members of his family any pain.
"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," she said.
White said the affair was never about love and that Cain never said he loved her.
"Nor did I tell him that I loved him," she said. "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."
Even before White surfaced, Cain faced steep hurdles to the nomination. He didn't have much of a campaign organization. He was spending more time on a book tour than in early primary and caucus states. And he was dealing with doubts about whether he was ready for the presidency, given a series of fumbles on policy questions.
Cain said that he was heading home on Friday to talk "face to face" with his wife of 42 years, although he said they had spoken several times a day since White told an Atlanta television station she had a casual if long-term affair with Cain that ended about eight months ago.
"My wife told me again today she loves me. It's not that she is doubting me," Cain told Fox News. "It's that all the media frenzy and all of the speculation and all of the twisting and the turning that never stops, it takes a toll on your family and that's my No. 1 priority."
Even so, he canceled a Friday evening event at the Atlanta Athletic Club as he decides whether his campaign goes forward.
"Herman Cain is a smart man, and he loves his family, and I know that these last four, five weeks, with these accusations, have taken a toll on him and they've taken a toll on his family," Cain lawyer Lin Wood told CNN. "I suspect he's going to have a heart-to-heart talk with his wife and his other family members and he's going to make sure that whatever decision he makes, the first and foremost consideration: Is it in their best interest?"
Associated Press writers Shannon McCaffrey and Ray Henry in Atlanta and Tom Beaumont in Iowa contributed to this report.