It is a sad day for Herman Cain supporters/late night hosts/Kenan Thompson: The Republican presidential candidate announced at an event in Atlanta today that he would be suspending his campaign. Cain blamed the “continued distractions” and “continued hurt” stemming from the assorted allegations of sexual harassment and affairs levied by five different women, which he has denied.
For establishment-eschewing Americans, Cain had positioned himself as an intriguing candidate, a self-made multimillionaire and former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza who “never took a course in political correctness,” a self-described “American black conservative,” and a man who gave us the famous 9-9-9 tax reform plan. Cain mania was significant/novel enough to take him briefly to the top of the polls this fall, but his campaign lost critical steam in recent weeks, tainted by tabloid-ish scandal. (Incidents like his bumbling, shudder-inducing interview about Libya with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentintel or, previously, the 20-foot-barbed-wire electrified border fence “joke” weren’t exactly mass momentum builders, either.)
Was it time for the 9-9-9-er to 86 himself? As a legitimate contender for the Republican nomination at this point, probably. There are only so many extra-sausage-on-that-pizza jokes you can hear before the real issues are lost in the sauce, so to speak. But if you listened to his feisty speech today, it doesn’t sound like he’s going anywhere. By announcing that he’s suspending and not formally ending his campaign, he can still raise and spend money, and he has vowed as “plan B” to continue to preach policy reform. (Which may provide some level of comfort to Jon Stewart and others.) More books and higher-fee speeches are undoubtedly in his future, too; when a campaign door shuts, a financial window opens.
How did the news hit you today, PopWatchers? Are you glad that the Cain media circus may be coming to a close? Or are you holding out a tiny bit of hope that he’ll pull a Perot-in-’92 and unsuspend his campaign later?