Herman Cain Suspends Bid for GOP Presidential Nomination
file photo; Win McNamee/Getty Images
Herman Cain announced Saturday he was suspending his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, citing the “painful price” sexual harassment and extramarital affair allegations have had on his family.
“With a lot of prayer and soul searching, I am suspending my presidential campaign,” Cain told a crowd outside his campaign headquarters in Atlanta. “I am suspending my presidential campaign because of the continued distraction, the continued hurt caused on me and my family, not because we are not fighters, not because I’m not a fighter.”
With typical Cain bravado, the former Godfather’s Pizza chief executive declared he would continue to have a voice in the political conversation going forward.
“The pundits would like for me to shut up, drop out and go away,” Cain said. “I am not going to be silenced and I am not going away.”
Earlier this week Cain told his staff that he would reassess his campaign after a Georgia woman, Ginger White, said the two had engaged in a 13-year extramarital affair.
Cain has denied the allegations, insisting he and White were only friends. The businessman acknowledged giving White financial assistance without telling his wife.
The move to suspend his presidential bid effectively brings to a close an unconventional campaign that stunned much of the political establishment. Cain catapulted to the top of the GOP field in October, based in large part on businessman’s personal appeal and his catchy 9-9-9 economic plan, a policy he touted frequently during presidential debates and on the stump.
Within weeks, however, Cain’s campaign began to unravel. In late October, Politico reported that at least two women had accused Cain of inappropriate sexual behavior during his time as head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s.
Then, in early November, a Chicago-area woman, Sharon Bialek, publicly accused Cain of making unwanted sexual advances toward her following a business dinner 14 years ago.
Cain’s mishandling of the harassment accusations and other missteps on the trail — the most notable being his tortured response on his approach to Libya in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — combined to form a narrative that the businessman was not ready for the glare of the national campaign spotlight.
A Quinnipiac poll released in late October had Cain leading the Republican field with 30 percent, but less than a month later, the same survey found that Cain’s support had declined to 14 percent, although that still placed him third behind former House speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
A new Iowa poll set for release Saturday by The Des Moines Register found that Cain’s support among Republican caucus-goers had collapsed from 23 percent in October to just 8 percent now.
Both front-runners will likely try to appeal to Cain backers — Gingrich to the more conservative Tea Party supporters and Romney to those who were drawn to Cain’s business background. Others GOP contenders, such as Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, will look to fill the void left by Cain as the Romney alternative, should Gingrich stumble between now and the Iowa caucuses.
Cain said Saturday that he planned to make an endorsement at some point, but pledged it would “not be the current occupant of the White House.”