Herman Cain Campaign On The Verge Of Collapse?

Is the Cain Train finally running out of steam?

Herman Cain is sending mixed signals about how he intends to deal with the latest round of sexual wrongdoing allegations and the impact they are having on his campaign. To supporters, he’s saying that he is the victim of character assassination, and acting in the kind of defiant manner one would expect from someone who fully intends to stay in the race. At the same time, though, he’s also telling the press that he’ll make a decision about continuing his campaign “in the next several days”:

Dayton, Ohio (CNN) – Embattled Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain is keeping mum on whether he will remain in the race for the GOP nomination.

When asked by CNN if he is vowing to continue his campaign, Cain declined to give a direct response.

“We are reassessing and reevaluating,” Cain said.

Cain said he would have a final answer about his future plans soon.

“We will be making a decision in the next several days,” Cain said.

One could wonder what Cain is doing in Ohio, which is the next-to-last state to have a primary in 2012, rather than in Iowa or New Hampshire, where the contests are just about six weeks away. Of course, if you read through Politico’s latest piece on the Cain campaign, you’ll realize that there is no logic to these decisions when it comes to the Cain Train. Remember that disastrous interview with the Editorial Board of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel? Well it turns out that Cain was only in Milwaukee that day because his campaign manager wanted to go to the Packers game. I’m not kidding.

Meanwhile, Robert Stacey McCain is out with some news about what seems like utter chaos for the Cain campaign’s New Hampshire organization:

Sources close to the Herman Cain presidential campaign in New Hampshire say that the candidate will be flying into a firestorm of trouble when he arrives in Manchester for events tonight.

Reporters for New Hampshire news organizations today contacted Cain campaign insiders in the state asking if they were aware that at least seven Republican members of the state legislature who had previously endorsed the Atlanta businessman were preparing to rescind their endorsements. These additional defections follow in the wake of reports yesterday that two GOP state legislators who had endorsed Cain had switched their support to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

We already know that two state representatives who had endorsed Cain were switching to Gingrich, if the rest follow then that would be particularly embarressing, especially considering that Cain himself is scheduled to be in Manchester tonight. When he arrives there, he may want to check on his campaign office in town, because yesterday it was shut tight and locked down with a sign saying “Out to Lunch,” at 2:30 in the afternoon.

Meanwhile, prominent conservatives are starting to distance themselves from Cain. Congressmen Allen West, who draws support from the same Tea Party activists as Cain, said that Cain had become a distraction and that he needed to drop out of the race. Former RNC Chairman Michael Steele expressed concern that Cain’s problems could cause trouble for the party as a whole, and that he needed to consider that and the impact on his family while he “reassess” his campaign. And conservative filmmaker Ladd Ehlinger laid into Cain in a strongly worded post that suggests that he has knowledge of Cain’s private behavior:

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.

But hey, you never thought that your con to sell your books would actually spark, did you? You never thought that good, decent, hard-working American people would actually believe what you said. Now here you are, trapped like a lying fly in amber, hoping to get the big brass ring without any other dirt coming out on you.

All you are doing is playing your friends, your supporters, and some of my very good friends for your own fame and glory. And drinking parties. Yes – you drink like a fish, you flirt all over the place, and everyone who’s attended CPAC knows it. Nothing wrong with partying. Unless you lie about it. And try to deceive the public about it. If you want to be the American-Tea-Party Berlusconi, then be up front about it, don’t be a damned coward.

You should be ashamed of yourself.

If you didn’t have such a ridiculous ego that seems to only recognize television and radio celebrities as your equals (and no one else is worth your glorious time), you’d see that your behavior is destructive, pathetic, and shameful. You are not Presidential material. You are a quasi-conservative, shallow celebrity with a

I was at CPAC in February, and spent plenty of time at the after-hours parties and the hotel bar hanging out. I don’t recall seeing Cain at any of these events, and I don’t recall hearing any stories about the kind of things that Ehlinger insinuates here, a recollection which is supported by other CPAC attendees I’ve asked about this. Nonetheless, Ehlinger’s post is just another sign that the right is (finally) moving beyond Cain whether he knows it or not.

For a normal campaign, all of this would be a sign that the candidate is about to drop out of the race, but the Cain Train is far from a normal campaign. He might end up dropping out, but that’s only guessing at this point until something happens. One factor that was mentioned on MSNBC this morning is worth noting, though. The next round of matching funds from the Federal Election Commission comes in January. If Cain ends his campaign before then, he may jeopardize his eligibility for those funds, which he may likely need to cover debts the campaign has had to incur since ramping up operations over the past two months. Additionally, as others have pointed out, if Cain drops out now it’s an admission that the latest allegations are true, but if he waits and drops out after Iowa, where he’s sinking like a stone, he has a ready-made excuse to point to. Moreover, the last debate before Iowa is December 15th, after that many people are going to be paying attention to Christmas rather than politics, so there’s arguably no reason for Cain to drop out before then, unless these allegations get worse.

So, in short, I suppose we’ll have to wait and see what Cain does, but my guess now is that he stays in until Iowa.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. I don’t recall seeing Cain at any of these events

    No offense, but are you really important enough to get invited to the parties Cain would have been at?

  2. Consensus has been reached. Herman can go home. He seems like a very nice guy, and as a man, he’s accomplished a tremendous amount in his lifetime. The man drank from “whites only” fountain as a child and accomplished so much in a lifetime only to be stricken with cancer and then over come that, too. And, after all that, he doesn’t even seem capable of bitterness. Good luck to him. He gives a great speech.

    As to who’s next… is there anyone left to be the non-Romney? Could Huntsman actually get a turn? His actual record is more conservative than Gingrich’s. Is it that absurd to think a social conservative would pick Huntsman? http://bit.ly/w3IUlr

  3. So is it possible that Cain was sexually harrasing people at some closed party somewhere? Maybe, but one would’ve thought those stories would’ve gotten around. Other stories (not about Cain) certainly did (and, no I’m not sharing those)

  4. Dave Schuler says:

    How can you tell?

  5. Fair point there, Dave

  6. Neil Hudelson says:

    Isn’t this, in a way, exactly what Cain wanted? What better book to sell than a “tell-all” about how he was ousted out of his honorable race by teh librul media, secret collusions between Democrats and…we’ll say Perry. Throw in some allegations about how every one of the women were all part of a vast left-wing conspiracy (we’ll throw Romney into that web, since he’s not a ‘real conservative’), and mix with a bit of insinuations on racism. You’ve got a best seller!

    National Review or Reason will buy a few hundred thousand each to ensure it tops the charts.

  7. @Neil Hudelson:

    Good point. Perhaps he’s hoping to take over Palin’s schtick as perpetual victim.

    And, for the record, Reason is most definitely not Cain country.

  8. Linton says:

    Reason is the realm of Ron Paul and Gary Johnson. Also, I have an observation about the picture of Cain in this post. Could you picture any of the other presidential candidates wearing a microphone headpiece like that? Every other candidate would look absurd in one. Picture Gingrich in one and try not to crack a grin.

  9. Ron Beasley says:

    I think the real problem here is that the Republican base put him in a position where he could collapse. He was obviously an ignoramus from day one.

  10. Liberty60 says:

    I have to smile at Ladd Ehlinger’s sudden burst of righteous indignation.

    Oh, NOW he remembers Cain flirting and drinking like a fish? What, he had temproary amnesia for the past 9 months or so?

  11. anjin-san says:

    He seems like a very nice guy

    Hmmm, sexual harassment & long term adultery. I guess he is a nice guy, just not to women.

  12. de stijl says:

    Congressmen Allen West

    Former RNC Chairman Michael Steele

    I wonder what JC Watts and Alan Keyes have to say.

    And, um, ah, um, isn’t there another black guy from California or somewhere? Help me out here, people.

  13. de stijl says:

    Look at the photo at the top of the article. What’s the other (non-US) flag on his lapel?

  14. @de stijl:

    Hard to tell because there’s sunlight reflecting on the lapel, but it might be the upper left portion of the State Flag of Georgia.

  15. Dave Schuler says:

    I think it might be the U. S. Flag/Navy lapel pin.

  16. Dave,

    That’s probably it now that you mention it. Cain was a civilian employee for the Dept. of the Navy after he graduated college.

  17. superdestroyer says:

    Who cares? Writing about Cain, Perry, Romney, or Gingrich is just a way for Wonk-wannabes to distract themselves for those who really are relevant (the Democrats) and the issues that really are important.

    One a day that American Airlines declared bankruptcy and Iranian students overran the British Embassy, most bloggers focused almost exclusively on someone who has always had zero chance of being relevant in politics.

  18. mantis says:

    @de stijl:

    I wonder what JC Watts and Alan Keyes have to say.

    And, um, ah, um, isn’t there another black guy from California or somewhere? Help me out here, people.

    Heh. Not enough for a Luntz focus group yet, but just give it another 40 years or so!

  19. superdestroyer says:

    @de stijl:

    Republicans barely exist in California. I doubt if any of the few Republicans left in California are black.

  20. de stijl says:


    Oh, NOW he remembers Cain flirting and drinking like a fish? What, he had temporary amnesia for the past 9 months or so?

    Read Ehlinger’s full post. He’s pissed he didn’t get a video gig. I swear to God that politics is way more Mean Girls than Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

  21. EddieInCA (now in GA) says:

    Cain’s campaign couldn’t counter countless cheating chronicles concerning consistently callous conduct, collapsing calm Cain’s contrary cockeyed candidacy.

  22. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Doug Mataconis: @Doug Mataconis:

    That’s fair. I just couldn’t think of another conservative magazine off the top of my head.

  23. michael reynolds says:

    Herman Cain des not lie well enough to be president.

  24. michael reynolds says:

    The train of Cain runs only in his brain.

    I think he’s got it! I think he’s got it!

    Now, once again, where’s that train?
    In his brain, in his brain!
    And where’s that fevered brain?
    In Cain, in Cain!

    The train of Cain runs only in his brain.

  25. de stijl says:

    Speaking of stone dead Republican candidates, anyone see the Bachman story where she states that if she were President, she would shut down the US embassy in in Iran? Too effing rich.

    And this is coming from someone on the House Intelligence Committee?

    I was a typical dumbass teenager during the hostage crises and I know this stuff. How the Hell did we end up in this state where people like her and Cain are running for President? It makes me nauseous, frankly.

  26. G.A.Phillips says:

    One a day that American Airlines declared bankruptcy and Iranian students overran the British Embassy, most bloggers focused almost exclusively on someone who has always had zero chance of being relevant in politics.

    ya. I think another religion of peace center http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/a-second-iranian-nuclear-facility-has-exploded-as-diplomatic-tensions-rise-between-the-west-and-tehran/story-e6frg6so-1226209996774 has blown up too….

    Sucks about Cain, I think he ran a historic campaign, to bad the all this crap had to happen, which I am still not sure I believe any of unlike most of you…

  27. G.A.Phillips says:

    Herman Cain Des not lie well enough to be president

    Harry I think might have stumbled across something here that Obama can actually run on besides the working white families that his strategists have just run over….

  28. “They have been trying to do a character assassination on me,” Cain told an enthusiastic crowd in West Chester, Ohio. “They are attacking my character, my reputation and my name in order to try and bring me down.”

    Should I point out that said “character assassination” is being perpetrated by an owned and operated affiliate of NewsCorp?

  29. Fiona says:

    At this point, Cain might as well stick it out until Iowa, collect his matching funds and go home. I don’t think he was in this thing to win it anyway and was as surprised as anybody by his sudden rise in the polls.

  30. Just nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @de stijl: These events remind me of a comment by Morton Kondracke when he was writing for The New Republic. The theme still hold for the new names.

    “The greatness of the U.S. political system is based on two truths that must work simultaneously. The first is that even Lyndon LaRouche can run for President. The second is that Lyndon LaRouche cannot win.”

    It was true then and it’s still true today.

  31. Barb Hartwell says:

    Cain should go home and salvage whats left of his marriage. His dignity and reputation is in the toilet but he can always make millions with faux noise listeners They`re gullible enough.