Herman Cain tries to make lemonade from lemons
Commentary by CBSNews.com editor-in-chief Dan Farber
After weeks of dealing with allegations of sexual harassment and, more recently, some kind of long-term relationship with an Atlanta-based woman, as well as lackluster debate performances and concerns about his foreign policy credentials, it was clear that businessman and motivational speaker Herman Cain's quest for the presidency was heading for a cliff.
Poll numbers from a Des Moines Register survey of likely Iowa caucus-goers showed a drop from 23 percent to 8 percent in the last 30 days.
In suspending his campaign Saturday afternoon, Cain ended the suspense surrounding his troubled candidacy and heaped blame on the media for the "continued distraction" that led to his decision to abandon his presidential aspirations.
"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," Cain said, reiterating his position that all the allegations are untrue.
"These false and untrue allegations continue to spin in the media, and in the court of public opinion so as to create a cloud of doubt over me and the campaign and my family," he added. "It hurts my wife, it hurts my family, it hurts me and it hurts the American people because you are being denied solutions to our problems. Here's why it hurts: Because my wife, my family and I, we know that those false and unproved allegations are not true."
Less than a week ago, Ginger White, an Atlanta-based woman, claimed that she and Cain had a 13-year-long extramarital affair. He admitted to giving her money, and having 61 phone calls and text messages with White over the last several months.
He told the crowd gathered at his new campaign headquarters in Atlanta today, "I am at peace with my wife, and she is at peace with me. And I am at peace with my family and at peace with myself."
Cain's wife Gloria, who was unaware of Ginger White until she surfaced on television this week, accompanied her husband on the stage as he attempted to make lemonade out of lemons - his debate performances, multiple female accusers and declining poll numbers - in announcing his "Plan B," which appears to be a continuation of his 9-9-9 economic recovery plan.
"With the new organization I will still be promoting the biggest change and transfer of power out of Washington, D.C. back to the people since the nation began, and that is the 9-9-9 plan. It's not going away," Cain stated. "thecainsolutions.com is where the people will choose, not the media, not the politicians, and the people will show that the people are still in charge of the country."
According to PolitiFact, in Cain's 9-9-9 plan low- and middle-income taxpayers would contribute a greater share of taxes than those in higher tax-brackets. Nonetheless, 9-9-9 resonates with the public and helped Cain's meteoric rise in the polls in the early fall.
Bowing out of the race today, the former business executive made it clear that he wants to stay in the spotlight. "The pundits would like for me to shut up, drop out and go away. Well, as my grandmother who lived to be 104 years old used to say, when somebody was dead wrong, bless their little hearts. I am not going to be silenced and I am not going away," he said.
Like Sarah Palin before him, Cain is taking on the mantle of Washington outsider and a Tea Party favorite who says he will "show the people are still in charge of the country."
He now has not much to lose, and a lot to gain in terms of distancing himself from the "distractions" and pushing his Plan B and opinions in the very media outlets he has been excoriating for his downward slide.
As he ended his concession speech, removing himself from what he called the "dirty game" of running for president, Cain announced that he would be making an endorsement. If he can't continue his run for president, at least he can play the role of a kingmaker. He has already been reaching out to some of the remaining candidates as Plan B gets underway.
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