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Gloria Cain emerges as non-traditional campaign wife

It's unclear whether the wife of GOP hopeful Herman Cain 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.
/ Source: msnbc.com staff and news service reports

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.

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.

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.

"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.