Faced with continued allegations of inappropriate behavior involving women, Herman Cain has “suspended” his presidential campaign – effectively ending it.
Cain continues to vigorously deny any wrong-doing. With his wife Gloria standing nearby, smiling and applauding, Cain said: “I am peace with my God. I am peace with my wife, and she is at peace with me. I am at peace with myself.”
But “with a lot of prayer and a lot of soul-searching,” he said, “I am suspending my presidential campaign because of the continued distraction, the continued hurt caused me and my family.”
Cain also noted the impact on his ability to raise the campaign funds necessary to stay competitive in a field that – for the moment, at least – includes two strong and politically experienced front-runners, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. Undoubtedly, that was the most important tactical reason for Cain’s dropping out of the race.
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Just hours before his announcement Saturday, the Des Moines Register’s new Iowa Poll showed Cain in political free-fall.
The poll – a significant indicator of how the candidates are doing in the first state to begin choosing the GOP nominee one month from today – had Cain dropping from a very competitive 23 percent in October to just 8 percent as the news of an alleged 13-year affair was breaking.
“Although Cain has denied the affair, bad feelings about him doubled during the time the poll was in the field, from Sunday through Wednesday,” Jennifer Jacobs, the newspaper’s chief politics writer, reported Saturday. “On a question about the candidate most likely to have a scandal in the White House, Cain’s numbers rose from 25 percent at the start of polling, then to 36 percent, and to 47 percent at the end of polling. Asked which candidate caucus goers most want to see in person, Cain was at 22 percent in a two-day rolling average of Sunday and Monday polling. That fell to 8 percent for the Tuesday-Wednesday results.”
Meanwhile, Cain also has been dropping in polls in Florida and South Carolina – both early-voting states.
A businessman and broadcaster with no elected experience, Cain quickly gathered campaign momentum following the announcement that he was running for president – a fresh face untarred by the sometimes dirty business of politics, especially in Washington (although he’d been a lobbyist).
He was an attractive personality who could burst out in decent baritone song, he did well in the debates, and his “9-9-9” plan for fixing the economy had the benefit of simplicity (if not accuracy once the details were penciled out).
But he made a number of significant gaffes on major issues, he seemed to know little if anything about foreign affairs, and he appeared to flip-flop (or at least be inarticulate) about his position on abortion.
Then came a series of women – four so far, two of whom have spoken out publicly – making what appeared to be credible sexual harassment charges. At least two of those cases had resulted in significant settlement payments to women who had worked for Cain when he headed the National Restaurant Association.
With those charges still out there, and despite Cain’s vehement denials of ever having acted inappropriately with women, Ginger White last week alleged that she and Cain had had a 13-year sexual affair. Though Cain denied that, he admitted that he had given money to Ms. White without telling his wife.
Suspending his campaign allows Cain to continue raising and spending campaign funds. Just before his speech in Atlanta Saturday, he had met with major donors.
Cain ended his campaign suspension announcement – what was a virtually a total withdrawal speech – by saying that he would endorse one of the other candidates “in the near future.”
Still, he said, “I am not going to be silenced, and I am not going away.”
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