Herman Cain, long-shot candidate turned brief frontrunner for the GOP nomination, ostensibly ended his bid for the White House earlier today here in Atlanta. Cain didn’t formally withdraw from the race, opting instead to “suspend” his campaign:
Herman Cain ended his Quixotic bid for the White House on Saturday, telling hundreds of supporters in Atlanta the path to victory no longer was passable.
Cain said the onslaught of accusations of sexual harassment and marital infidelity has caused too much of a strain on his marriage and that after discussing it with his wife, Gloria, they agreed it was time to focus on their family.
“As of today, with a lot off prayer and soul searching, I am suspending my presidential campaign,” Cain said, his wife standing behind him, “because of the continued distraction, the continued hurt caused on me and my family, not because we’re not fighters.
But Cain said he “will not be silenced and I’m not going away.”
Cain said he’s on to “Plan B,” which revolves around a website where he will continue to push for solutions to the country’s problems.
Cain will apparently make an endorsement in the race in the coming weeks, which already has other candidates jockeying for position. Keep in mind that Cain backed Romney in 2008, but it’s unlikely he’d do again. It certainly seems that he and Gingrich had developed a bit of a bond over the course of the campaign, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him to go that route.
The question of what Herman Cain will do in the coming days, whether he will stay in the race or exit to focus on healing the wounds that have no doubt been created in recent weeks, is something that observers and pundits are dwelling on. What he does could, obviously, have a significant impact on the race.
For his part Cain and his campaign have, as usual, given mixed message. At first they said that Cain could leave the race. That changed as the day went along, after Cain gave a firey speech in Ohio. However, by the end of the day it appeared that Cain was still weighing all of his options, and said that no decision would be made until he spoke with his wife.
Many Republicans are saying that Cain needs to get out of the race for various different reasons, from him now serving a distraction to the feeling that he nees to focus on his family. Rep. Allen West (R-FL), a tea party favorite, is among them:
“Beyond reassessing his campaign, he probably needs to understand that he is a distracter for what’s going on right now and we should move on,” West told WMAL’s radio show “Morning Majority.”
With the prospect of Herman Cain exiting the race for the Republican Party’s nomination for president, many analysts and pundits are weighing where his support would go. You’d have to assume that Mitt Romney probably wants Cain to say in due to the dynamics of the race. At least one poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling, indicates that Newt Gingrich would be the beneficiary of Cain’s exit:
Gingrich has a much better favorability rating with Cain supporters than does Mitt Romney. Seventy-three percent of Cain supporters view Gingrich favorably, while only 33 percent have a favorable view of Romney.
Gingrich is also the consensus second choice among Cain voters, with 37 percent saying Gingrich would be their back-up to Cain, compared to 14 percent for Michele Bachmann, 13 percent for Romney, and 12 percent for Rick Perry.
While it may be counterintuitive on the surface, Grace Wyler believes both Romney and Gingrich need Cain to stay in the race:
Given the recent news about Herman Cain, Ladd Ehlinger, the conservative video guru responsible for some of the best ads in the last cycle (and also a couple of controversial ones), took the opportunity to vent about his campaign:
I was pro-Cain at the beginning, when Stacy McCain brought him to my attention and two good friends of mine started working for him. Dale Peterson endorsed him, and everyone I knew jumped on the “Cain Train.”
In fact I wanted to be on that train. Loved his speeches, thought he was witty, enjoyed meeting him at CPAC. I had all sorts of viral video ideas for him, back when he was a tabula rasa and no one knew who he was.
Then I tried to correspond with his team. One of them led me on for roughly five months. Eventually I discovered that someone else already had an exclusive contract to do all of his videos. I had been flat-out-lied to. Probably in order to keep me from working with any other candidate. When I called out this “Cain team member” about it, she was highly annoyed that I had the temerity to point out that she was lying to me.
But then Ehlinger notes that Cain may have given a hint of his personal carelessness during after parties at CPAC back in mid-February (emphasis mine):
Mr. Cain: you do NOT run for President in these times unless you are serious about it. It’s flat-out apparent now that you aren’t, weren’t, and never will be. A serious candidate would have released all the dirt on himself before any of it dripped-dripped-dripped out.
Desparate to get his campaign back on track — especially in the face of an alleged affair, Herman Cain unveiled a new video, dubbed 9-9-9: The Movie, that criticizes the current federal tax code and stresses the need for simplification:
The video notes that it would do away with the 35% income tax while also pointing out that the 9-9-9 plan eliminates a host of other taxes, including the payroll tax. Yes, it lowers the rate, but it doesn’t get rid of the tax itself. They don’t outright say it, but that the way that is presented could lead the average voters to believe his plan does something it simply doesn’t do.
They also note the hidden taxes that are embedded into the cost of goods and services, but Cain’s campaign fails to explain how the 9% sales tax isn’t a value added tax (VAT), which has been a frequent criticism of the plan.
In case you didn’t know from comments he made in earlier part of his campaign, Herman Cain doesn’t like Muslims. During a recent speech, which was covered by Chris Moody for Yahoo News, Cain explained his ease when his learned that his oncologist was a Christian, despite a funny sounding last name:
He begins with a story about how he knew he would survive when he discovered that his physician was named “Dr. Lord,” that the hospital attendant’s name was “Grace” and that the incision made on his chest during the surgery would be in the shape of a “J.”
“Come on, y’all. As in J-E-S-U-S! Yes! A doctor named Lord! A lady named Grace! And a J-cut for Jesus Almighty,” Cain boomed.
He did have a slight worry at one point during the chemotherapy process when he discovered that one of the surgeon’s name was “Dr. Abdallah.”
“I said to his physician assistant, I said, ‘That sounds foreign—not that I had anything against foreign doctors—but it sounded too foreign,” Cain tells the audience. “She said, ‘He’s from Lebanon.’ Oh, Lebanon! My mind immediately started thinking, wait a minute, maybe his religious persuasion is different than mine! She could see the look on my face and she said, ‘Don’t worry, Mr. Cain, he’s a Christian from Lebanon.’”
“Hallelujah!” Cain says. “Thank God!”
The crowd laughs uneasily.
While many observers are focused on Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich, who appear to be the main obstacles to Mitt Romney winning the Republican primary, Ron Paul is making his own push in Iowa and New Hampshire. Brent Budowsky offers his two-cents on the state of Paul’s campaign over at The Hill’s Pundits Blog:
There are now multiple polls that show Ron Paul has gained support and has a legitimate chance to come in first or second in Iowa and New Hampshire. I would now call Ron Paul one of three front-runners in both Iowa and New Hampshire alongside Mitt Romney and a third candidate, currently Newt Gingrich. If Ron Paul wins Iowa, which he might, all bets are off. Also, most analysts miss the fact that many states have open systems where independents, and in some cases Democrats, can vote for a Republican nominee. This could give a further boost to Paul.
It is now time to give Ron Paul the attention he deserves in debates and throughout the political community.
The campaign gets very interesting if Newt Gingrich joins Herman Cain, Rick Perry and Donald Trump in collapsing, which would give Paul a head-to-head contest with Romney.
I am not predicting Ron Paul is nominated, I am suggesting he deserves to be treated with the respect of now being a serious contender to win first or second place in Iowa and New Hampshire. I have always predicted that Paul will ultimately be one of three finalists for the Republican nomination, which will become a three-person race, with Ron Paul one of the three.
As was noted in yesterday’s GOP Presidential Power Rankings, Newt Gingrich is coming on strong as he appears to be latest anti-Romney emerge from the pack. The latest numbers in the race from Gallup only serve to emphasize that point.
Here is how the field looks right now:
- Newt Gingrich: 22%
- Mitt Romney: 21%
- Herman Cain: 16%
- Ron Paul: 9%
- Rick Perry: 8%
- Michele Bachmann: 4%
- Jon Huntsman: 1%
- Rick Santorum: 1%
- Other: 1%
- None/No opinion: 18%
As you can see in the chart Gallup provided in their report of the poll numbers, this has been anything but a normal primary as the GOP electorate — though primarily tea party influenced and more conservative voters — moved back and forth between whatever Flavor of the Month has been put before them.
Unlikely Bachmann and Perry, Cain isn’t dropping off very far; despite the recently surfaced allegations of sexual harrassment. Most Republican voters aren’t bothered by those stories. They should, however, be very concerned at how his campaign has handled them and the frequent gaffes and lack of knowledge on policy issues that would come before him in the White House.
Another reason Cain has managed to hang on is due to some distrust of Gingrich among conservatives and tea partyers, which is understandable.
More information keeps coming out from Herman Cain’s recent interview with the editorial board of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and at this point, the fact that he was ever considered to be a frontrunner in the race for the GOP nomination for president should be an embarrassment.
“I’m not supposed to know anything about foreign policy. Just thought I’d throw that out,” he said, a dig at his critics.
He defended his view that presidents and presidential candidates don’t need to be immersed in the fine print of world affairs – they simply need to be leaders who can surround themselves with the right people and sift through their advice.
“I’m not supposed to know anything about foreign policy. Just thought I’d throw that out,” he said, a dig at his critics.
“I want to talk to commanders on the ground. Because you run for president (people say) you need to have the answer. No, you don’t! No, you don’t! That’s not good decision-making,” said Cain.
And his reasoning for not attacking Iran? According to Cain, it’s not a practical idea because the country is “very mountainous.” By that reasoning, we shouldn’t have bombed Afghanistan either since al-Qaeda was hiding in Tora Bora. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe we should engage Iran either, but not because of its topography.
If you’re going to run for the nation’s highest office, you damn well better have some idea about foreign policy. This isn’t the type of job that that allows for a learning curve, the current occupant of the White House is evidence of that.
Earlier I noted that this weird Republican primary contest could get even crazier before the first votes are cast in Iowa on January 3, 2012. Over at Real Clear Politics, Sean Trende explains why it’s likely that we’ll see more twists and turns by drawing from the 2008 cycle in both party primaries. Here is an excerpt, but I recommend you read the entire peice for the full understanding of what Trende is getting at:
The Republican primary season seems to have had an endless succession of Republican front-runners and alternatives to Mitt Romney. But history suggests that we’re just getting started. Take a look at the RealClearPolitics average for the Republican contest in 2008:
At this point in the last cycle, the rankings were: (1) Rudy Giuliani; (2) Fred Thompson; (3) John McCain, roughly tied with Mitt Romney; (5) Mike Huckabee. Two months later, it was a McCain/Huckabee race. Giuliani wouldn’t begin to decline for another month, and McCain wouldn’t be in first place until mid-January.
Of course, the national ratings are only a small portion of what goes on in a primary. Iowa and New Hampshire are key. Here’s the RCP Average for 2008 in those two states, with Huckabee bolded for Iowa and McCain bolded for New Hampshire: