RALEIGH, N.C. (WBTV/AP) - North Carolina Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cal Cunningham again apologized Friday in response to allegations he may have had an extramarital affair, and seemed to dodge questions about whether more allegations could surface in the future.
The questions came during a conference call that was supposed to be focused on COVID-19 relief in N.C., and how Cunningham sees his political rival Senator Thom Tillis' response to those needs.
When the meeting came to questions from the press, however, the subject turned to the allegations against Cunningham.
When asked if his personal life is “fair game” for the public to take into consideration, given that Cunningham has spoken about his personal life throughout his campaign, he said he has already taken responsibility for his actions.
“Let me be clear, I’ve taken responsibility for the hurt I’ve caused in my personal life," Cunningham said. "I’ve apologized for it, and I know that this campaign, our campaign is about things that are much bigger and more important than just me.”
“North Carolinians are looking for somebody who is going to take on the monumental challenges ahead of us,” he added, citing the fight against COVID-19 and the impact it’s had on the state.
The next question was about whether Cunningham believes any more allegations could come out, possibly involving other women or other extramarital affairs.
Cunningham answered the question by speaking again about Sen. Tillis, saying the affair is what Tillis wants to talk about instead of his own “failed record.”
“Let me just be completely clear that what North Carolinians want is a Senate candidate and a Senator who will focus on their issues,” Cunningham said, in part.
The following questions came from reporters who all asked that Cunningham be clearer in his response to whether more women may come forward with allegations, and whether it would be a distraction for him should he be elected and head to Washington.
Cunningham seemed to dodge those questions as well, again repeating what he believes North Carolinians are looking for in a Senator.
In total, Cunningham was asked four times about whether more allegations could surface in the future.
Cunningham offered an apology Wednesday night after it was revealed he is under investigation by the U.S. Army Reserve in relation to the extramarital affair allegations.
Cunningham confirmed to the Raleigh News & Observer late last Friday a series of sexual text messages he exchanged with a woman who is not his wife. Both Cunningham and the woman, identified by the online news outlet National File as the wife of an army veteran, have spouses.
On Wednesday night, Cunningham delivered remarks at the League of Conservation Voters' Green Tie Awards, and offered an apology for his actions.
“I am deeply sorry for the hurt I have caused in my personal life and I also apologize to all of you. And I hope each of you watching at home accept this sincere apology and that we will continue to work together to change the direction of our country and strengthen our state,” Cunningham said.
Previously undisclosed text messages obtained by The Associated Press and additional interviews show that the relationship extended beyond suggestive texts to an intimate encounter as recently as July. The full Associated Press article can be found here.
In a statement Wednesday, a spokesman for the Army Reserve confirmed an investigation into Cunningham’s alleged extramarital affair.
“The Army Reserve is investigating the matters involving Lt. Col. James Cunningham. As such, we are unable to provide further details at this time,” Army Reserve spokesman Lt. Col. Simon Flake said in a statement to WBTV.
Adultery is a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. It is not clear whether Cunningham’s alleged conduct would violate the UCMJ.
Cunningham’s personal indiscretion offers a fresh test of whether voters will punish candidates for their private, consensual activity, and the answer they deliver could determine which party wields power in the Senate.