Image: Gloria Cain accompanies her husband Herman Cain as he announces his run as a Republican candidate for president in Atlanta, May 21.
David Goldman  /  AP file
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 11/4/2011 9:58:58 AM ET 2011-11-04T13:58:58

Gloria Cain is hardly the traditional presidential campaign wife.

She has been virtually absent from the campaign trail as her husband, Herman, runs for the Republican presidential nomination. And she's been silent this week as the businessman fights to overcome allegations that he sexually harassed women while he led the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s.

"She's doing fine, and she's still 200 percent supportive of me in this whole race, 200 percent supportive of me as her husband, because I haven't done anything," Cain told conservative talk show host Sean Hannity on Thursday. He added: "She is feeling for me more so, because she knows that it's baseless."

Those who know Cain's wife of 43 years say she backs her husband's candidacy. Mrs. Cain is often described as "gentle" and "the nicest woman you'll ever meet," and people frequently remark on her faith and dedication to her husband and her family.

But it's unclear whether Mrs. Cain, 65, will step into the national spotlight to defend her husband the way so many spouses have done over the years when politicians are rocked by allegations of sexual misconduct.

Gloria Cain may remain in the shadows for the time being.  After indicating that she would appear on the Fox News Channel on Friday, someone close to the talks told The New York Times that she had backed out.  The GOP hopeful's wife has not completely closed the door on appearing on the network in the future, an anonymous source told the newspaper. Slideshow: Herman Cain (on this page)

Relatively little is known about Mrs. Cain beyond what Cain writes about her in his 222-page book: "This Is Herman Cain!: My Journey to the White House."

Cain devotes a chapter to his wife; it's 3 ½-pages long. He also dedicated the book to three groups of people, including his wife "for her unwavering support, patience, and sacrifice."

The chapter begins: "Gloria Etchison was beautiful. Let's face it; I was first attracted by her looks. And then I figured out she was also smart."

Cain writes that the two first saw each other on the street corner near the family owned grocery store where he worked as a college freshman. The future Mrs. Cain was walking down the street with a high school friend of his. It would be almost a year before the two went out on their first date — to the movies — while she was attending Morris Brown College and he was at Morehouse College.

"It was magic from that moment on, and so I didn't go out with anyone else. Neither did Gloria," Cain wrote.

The two were married June 23, 1968. They have two adult children — a daughter, Melanie, and a son, Vincent — and grandchildren.

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Cain turns to the blame game

As he runs for president, Cain wrote: "Gloria continues to be a steady source of devotion and inspiration, never more so than now." He acknowledges that people often ask why she doesn't campaign with him, and he tells them that she's at home. "And Gloria will tell them that she's not running but supports me 100 percent. That's all I need."

Mrs. Cain was with her husband in Omaha, Neb., during his years as a restaurateur and by his side as he beat colon cancer. In 1998, when the Cains returned to Atlanta, they also went back to Antioch Baptist Church North, Herman Cain's longtime spiritual home.

Video: Cain backers complain of ‘high-tech lynching’ (on this page)

"She's a woman of deep faith involved in a lot of church activities," said Matt Carrothers, who worked on Cain's failed campaign for U.S. Senate in 2004 and later worked for Cain from 2004 to 2007.

Carrothers said that while going out on the campaign trail isn't her primary interest, Gloria Cain supports her husband in other ways.

"Whenever I would go to Herman's house, there were grandkids running around. She has her own activities, but she's fully supportive of everything he does," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Video: Cain made several ‘advances,’ accuser’s lawyer says

  1. Transcript of: Cain made several ‘advances,’ accuser’s lawyer says

    WILLIAMS: Good evening.

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: The Iowa caucuses are 60 days away, and while it is early yet in the scheme of things this presidential election season, for Republicans vying for this nomination, the time to choose is coming sooner rather than later. And all the while, the sexual harassment drama has dominated at least the week's political headlines and overshadowed at other aspects of the race. It's been a while since we heard about Herman Cain 's 9-9-9 economic plan. Instead, and again tonight, we're hearing about his past. One of the three women who complained of unwanted advances today broke her silence and said, through her lawyer, she indeed filed a complaint and received a settlement. We begin here tonight with NBC 's Lisa Meyers . Lisa , good evening.

    LISA MEYERS reporting: Good evening, Brian . The woman's lawyer says there were several incidents of sexual harassment , described only as inappropriate behaviors and unwanted advances by Cain . And he charged that Cain , for all his denials, knows what those incidents were.

    Mr. HERMAN CAIN: Thank you.

    MEYERS: In what had to have been the high point of Herman Cain 's week...

    Mr. CAIN: Love y'all. Love ya'!

    MEYERS: A conservative group gave him a rousing welcome today.

    Mr. CAIN: I've been in Washington all week, and I've attracted a little bit of attention.

    MEYERS: Hours later the attention was focused here. Lawyer Joel Bennett went public with his client's version of events, confirmed that she filed a sexual harassment complaint against Cain in 1999 while he was CEO of the National Restaurant Association , citing several incidents.

    Mr. JOEL BENNETT: She made a complaint in good faith about a series of inappropriate behaviors and unwanted advances from the CEO.

    MEYERS: Bennett also confirmed that she received a financial settlement. What about Cain 's denials?

    Mr. BENNETT: Mr. Cain knows the specific incidents that were alleged. My client filed a written complaint in 1999 against him specifically, and it had very specific incidents in it. And if he chooses to not remember or not acknowledge those, that's his issue.

    MEYERS: The Cain campaign's response, "We look forward to focusing our attention on the real issues impacting this country." Bennett 's client, now a spokesperson for a federal agency in Washington , chose not to reveal details of the incidents. Sources involved with the restaurant group at the time tell NBC that Cain 's inappropriate behavior was directed at young staffers and usually involved drinking. They say it ranged from comments about their appearance and flirtation to overt sexual overtures, such as an invitation to his corporate apartment. Cain denies any inappropriate conduct.

    Mr. SEAN HANNITY: Did you tell a woman she looked good, that that dress looks hot?

    Mr. CAIN: Nope.

    Mr. HANNITY: Anything, any flirtation that you can think of?

    Mr. CAIN: Nope, nope.

    MEYERS: So far these accusations are not hurting Cain with voters. A new poll shows his support actually increased in the last month and that most, 55 percent, thought the allegations were not a serious matter. And, Brian , Cain has more potential trouble on the horizon. Today a watchdog group filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission , accusing Cain 's campaign of improperly using money from a nonprofit to pay for iPads and other expenses of his presidential campaign . Now, the campaign says it has retained

    outside council to investigate. Brian: All right, Lisa Meyers starting us off on a Friday night from our DC newsroom.

    WILLIAMS:

Photos: Herman Cain

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  1. Republican candidates for a U.S. Senate seat in Georgia, Johnny Isakson of Marietta, left, Herman Cain of Forest Park, right, and Mac Collins of Atlanta, reflected in the mirror on the wall, wait in the green room of WSB-TV studios before the start of a debate between the three in Atlanta, July 10, 2004. (John Amis / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Republican senate candidate Herman Cain held a press conference to promote advance voting after casting his ballot with his wife Gloria in McDonough, Ga., on July 13. 2004. Cain married Gloria in 1968, the year after he graduated from Morehouse college with a degree in mathematics. The couple have two children and three grandchildren. (Rob Felt / Daily Herald via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Sarah Palin impersonator Patti Lyons, right, shares a laugh with Herman Cain in the lobby of the Marriott Wardman Park hotel during the Conservative Political Action Conference Feb. 11, 2011 in Washington, DC. In a speech on the second day of the conference, Cain declared that "stupid people are ruining America." (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Herman Cain announces his run for the Republican candidate for president at a rally, May 21, 2011 in Atlanta. Though he never held public office he worked on the Bob Dole and Jack Kemp campaign in 1996, ran for president briefly in 2000 and ran for Georgia state senate in 2004. (David Goldman / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Republican presidential hopefuls Rep. Michele Bachmann, and Herman Cain, cross paths during the taping of a radio show at the Barley House, May 31, 2011 in Concord, N.H. (Jim Cole / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Herman Cain speaks in the spin room following the Republican presidential primary debate June 13, 2011 at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. Cain repeated his earlier statements the he would be uncomfortable with a Muslim in his cabinet (Darren Mccollester / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Herman Cain speaks during the "'Energy Independence Day Tea Party" rally on Independence Mall in Philadelphia, on July 4, 2011. (Joseph Kaczmarek / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Herman Cain talks to reporters as dozens of Tea Party supporters rally near the U.S. Capitol against raising the debt limit in Washington, July 27, 2011. (Jonathan Ernst / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Herman Cain talks to voters from the Des Moines Register's Soapbox during the second day of the Iowa State Fair August 12, 2011 in Des Moines, Iowa. The Republican candidates attended the fair in hopes of winning the Iowa Straw Poll, but Cain finished 5th. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Herman Cain visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City, Aug. 24, 2011. It was Cain's first trip to Israel where he also attended Glenn Becks "Restoring Courage" event. (Bernat Armangue / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Republican presidential hopefuls, from left, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Rep. Ron Paul, Herman Cain, and former Gov. of Utah Jon Huntsman, pose for photographs on Sept. 7, 2011 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., for the Republican presidential candidates debate. (Robyn Beck / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Herman Cain speaks to delegates during the Republican Party of Florida Presidency 5 Convention in Orlando, Florida, Sept. 24, 2011. (Phelan Ebenhack / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Herman Cain talks with Jay Leno on the Tonight Show at NBC Studios on September 30, 2011 in Burbank, California. (Kevin Winter/nbcuniversal / Getty Images Contributor) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. After strong comeback and winning Florida's straw poll, Herman Cain makes a campaign stop and launches his new book "This is Herman Cain! My Journey to the White House," outside The Olde Blind Dog Irish Pub, Oct. 2, 2011, in Milton, Ga. (Curtis Compton / Atlanta Journal & Constitution via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Herman Cain signs a copy of his new book for supporter Mary Wargula, of Dunwoody, Ga., Oct. 2, 2011 in Milton, Ga. Cain has written five books, two of which published during his current presidential campaign. (Curtis Compton / Atlanta Journal & Constitution via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain arrives to address the Family Research Council's Values Voter Summit in Washington on Oct. 7, 2011. (Nicholas Kamm / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Herman Cain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney participate in the Republican Presidential debate hosted by Bloomberg and the Washington Post on Oct. 11, 2011 at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. The debate focused the discussion on the economy giving Cain an opportunity to promote his 9-9-9 plan, which was mentioned 24 times in the two-hour event. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Herman Cain announces that he is suspending his campaign as a Republican presidential candidate while his wife Gloria Cain stand behind him during the scheduled opening of a local campaign headquarters on Dec. 3, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Cain had taken time to reassess the condition of his campaign "because of all this media firestorm stuff," adding, "my wife and family comes first." (Scott Olson / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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