Will He Or Won’t He? The Fate Of The Herman Cain Campaign Hangs In The Balance
Herman Cain will announce his future campaign plans this afternoon but, in some sense, it doesn't matter what he decides to do.
CNN covered Herman Cain’s arrival at his gated community home outside Atlanta as a Breaking News event yesterday, although all we really got to see was two SUV’s driving up a really long driveway toward a house hidden from the road. Ever since then, the media has been rife with speculation about what Herman Cain would be announcing when he speaks at Noon today. NBC News reported early in the evening that sources closes to the campaign say that Cain was likely to announce that he was either dropping out of the race or suspending his campaign in light of the latest round of allegations of sexual wrongdoing. Politico quote multiple unnamed sources as saying that Cain was leaning toward dropping out and, perhaps most interestingly, The Daily Beast reports say that Gloria Cain wants her husband to drop out of the race:
Sources close to the campaign say Gloria Cain wants her husband to leave the race and has no desire to do additional interviews about their marriage or the constant accusations. They describe a woman angry that her life has been turned upside down by her husband’s need for attention and power by any means.
“She hated doing that interview defending him on Fox but felt pressured to do it by him and the campaign,” says a campaign worker. “She doesn’t want to be forced to do that again because she knows he’s had girlfriends for many years. She just looked the other way. But if he won’t get out of the race, she may have to.”
The Daily Beast article also goes into some detail about the history of the Cain’s marriage that I won’t repeat here, but suffice it to say that, if it’s true, then the image of the successful businessman/family man that Cain has been projecting on the campaign trail is pretty much all a lie. The Washington Post, meanwhile, reports that Cain will be meeting with top supporters before today’s announcement to give them advance word of his decision, and the speculation from that corner seems to be that he’s out of the race. This is Herman Cain we’re talking about, though, so we won’t know what he’s going to say till he says it.
In the meantime, Cain is the subject of a devastating editorial in the Manchester Union-Leader:
Volumes will be written about the scandals surrounding Herman Cain’s campaign for President. We will reserve comment on the merits of those for another day (though voters may not). Without knowing any more about those allegations than is already public, we think voters have enough information to make a fair judgment about Cain as a presidential candidate.
We have had the pleasure of sitting down with Herman Cain several times. We have found him smart, charming and warmly engaging. He is an impressive man who has shown that he has a lot to offer his country. We disagree with many of his policy ideas, particularly his famous “9-9-9” tax plan. But we are impressed with his life story and his determination to think for himself in the midst of enormous pressure to conform to other people’s ideas of what he should believe and how he should express it.
Those qualities, however, are not enough for someone seeking the highest, most powerful public office in the world. Cain simply hasn’t prepared himself adequately for the presidency. That combined with the fact that he said yesterday he would change nothing about his handling of the allegations of the past shttps://www.outsidethebeltway.com/wp-admin/post-new.phpeveral weeks, and his assertion of a conspiracy theory that stretches credulity, show a lack of self-awareness that should give any supporter pause.
Ouch, that ones going to leave a mark.
On some level, what Cain announces today is largely irrelevant. Whether he withdraws from the race, suspends his campaign, or vows to stay and fight, his time in the spotlight is over. His poll numbers are plummeting nationally, and on a statewide level in the early primary states, and there are reports that his fundraising is trying up. Even if he continues in the race and waits until the results in Iowa and/or New Hampshire to make a graceful exit, he is close to being a non-factor in the race given that most of his supporters seem to be abandoning him, primarily for Newt Gingrich of all people. So even if he does stay in the race, Cain is simply irrelevant. For his part, Jazz Shaw wonders why Cain would bother dropping out at this point:
[I]t’s difficult to imagine why Cain would walk away on December 3rd. Leaving now essentially admits defeat in the face of all the allegations, whether they prove to be true or not. By sticking around until at least the Iowa caucuses, his options improve. First, as we also previously noted, he would begin qualifying for federal matching funds next year which could potentially help him retire any campaign debt he may have accrued. Further, once people start voting, he could make a more graceful exit, saying that the forces arrayed against him had clearly poisoned the well and the people weren’t supporting him, so it only makes sense to get out.
A fair point, but it’s also worth noting that if Cain stays in, the only thing about him that will be getting media coverage will be the sexual allegations, the fact that he has plummeted in the polls back to where he was in August, and the question of when he will finally admit reality and drop out of the race. Considering that a lot of people will be tuning out political coverage once we get closer to Christmas, perhaps Cain thinks he can endure this and then make a graceful exit. Perhaps he’s arrogant and deluded enough to think he can stage some kind of comeback. Given the way this man has behaved, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if all of that were true. Nonetheless, it’s not going to be a pleasant month for him and, if he has any desire to retain some kind of influence in the GOP, continuing with this painfully amateurish effort is only going to degrade whatever influence he has yet. A Herman Cain endorsement today might mean something still, a Herman Cain endorsement a month or so from now is likely to be worthless. Cain could preserve that for the most part by, instead of withdrawing from the race, suspending his campaign. He could say he’s doing it to “spend time with his family” and that he’ll re-evaluate his position in a few weeks.
We’ll know this afternoon what Cain has decided, but expecting the unexpected is probably advisable.
Update: As some have already noted in the comments, Cain announced this afternoon that he was suspending his campaign. There’s a new post with coverage and a post-mortem.