Cain: My wife didn't know that I was giving money to my accuser

Here’s the news people on Twitter are buzzing about from tonight’s raincheck interview with the Manchester Union-Leader. We already knew this, though — sort of. Cain told Wolf Blitzer on Monday, before we had heard Ginger White’s name, that his wife didn’t know White. (Skip to 7:30 of this clip.) That’s ever so slightly different from saying his wife didn’t know about White or that he was sending her cash, but c’mon: If she did know that, don’t you think he would have mentioned it to Blitzer as proof that their friendship was no secret?

Cain said that in about 70 text messages she sent him between Oct. 22 and Nov. 18, White was “asking for financial assistance. She was out of work and had trouble paying her bills and I had known her as a friend.

“She wasn’t the only friend who I had helped in these tough economic times, and so her messages to me were relating to ‘need money for rent’ or whatever the case may be. I don’t remember all the specifics.”…

“My wife now knows,” Cain said. “My wife and I have talked about it and I have explained it to her. My wife understands that I’m a soft-hearted giving person.”…

He said White did not threaten to go public with the allegation of an affair if Cain did not give her money, “nor was there any indication that there might be blackmail or anything like that…

Cain said he does not know why White has gone public with the allegation, “but I have very strong speculation that someone offered her a lot of money.

Supposedly she was desperate for cash, desperate enough that she’d risk ruining the marriage of a friend who’d been sweet enough to give her money by lying in exchange for a payout from some shadowy enemy — yet not so desperate that she’d try to blackmail Cain himself? If that’s true, she has a strange moral code.

Here’s the vid of the Union-Leader interview. Skip ahead to 22:00 and 46:00 for a few questions about White. Cain’s lawyer is pushing back by demanding copies of her phone records to try to prove that she was the one sending most of the texts, but even if that’s true, his polls are what they are. I can understand him wanting to stay in the race on principle if he’s innocent, but his support is now a wasting asset; if he wants to exchange it for something valuable, the sooner he does it, the better. Romney’s desperate to keep Cain’s supporters from bolting for Gingrich so he’d probably offer Cain something in return for an endorsement (Cain endorsed him in 2008, remember), but … what could he offer? A cabinet appointment or ambassadorship requires Senate approval, which would mean new scrutiny from Democrats of the harassment charges, White’s allegations, etc. Plus, endorsing Romney this time would complicate Cain’s brand as an authentic grassroots conservative anti-establishmentarian and he needs that brand to protect his chances at a show on Fox or a new talk-radio gig. Then again, endorsing Gingrich wouldn’t do much for his brand either. If he doesn’t endorse Mitt, then who? (Speaking of Newt, check out our very clever frontrunner turning a question about Cain into a play for social cons.)

One thing Romney has that Cain increasingly needs is campaign cash. According to WaPo, the Cain Train is almost out of steam financially, to the point where they can’t afford to run ads rebutting all the charges against him. If he ends up in debt, Romney could promise to erase his liabilities in return for an endorsement and some appearances on the stump. Obviously, though, that’ll matter much more to Romney when Cain’s still at 10-15 percent than when he’s at five. Tick tock. Click the image to watch.