Could the Cain Train be approaching its final stop?
Herman Cain is "reassessing" whether to stay in the race for the Republican Party's presidential nomination, according to a National Review Online report. In a conference call with senior staff on Tuesday, Cain said he would make a decision "over the next several days," National Review reported. Cain's campaign has been buffetted in recent weeks with allegations of sexual misconduct. This week, an Atlanta woman came forward, alleging she had a 13-year-long affair with Cain.
Fox's Carl Cameron and the Associated Press have confirmed NRO's report. Click through for Michelle Malkin's withering take, if you have the heart. Cain's denials on CNN last evening were adamant and comprehensive. His attorney's formal press statement...not so much. As I wrote yesterday, Cain is either getting a deeply unfair, historically bad rap in all of this, or he's a very gifted liar. As someone who genuinely likes Cain, I hope it isn't the latter. Of all the salacious sexual allegations against Cain, this latest one seems to be the most credible. Yes, the supposed mistress has some significant blots on her reputation -- including a libel judgment agaisnt her -- but that doesn't explain 61 texts and calls between Cain and Ms. White over a 120 day span. Remember, she claimed to have the candidate's private cell phone number, and when a reporter texted it last week, Cain himself called back. Question: Does Cain's reported "reassessment" suggest that there may be at least some truth to Ginger White's claims, or is he just battered and demoralized from the entire onslaught? On his conference call today, Cain maintained his innocence but hinted the end might be approaching:
“Now, with this latest [accusation], we have to do an assessment as to whether or not this is going to create too much of a cloud, in some people’s minds, as to whether or not they would be able to support us going forth,” Cain said. "Over the next several days, we are going to continue with the schedule as usual,” he said. “I’ve got a major speech tonight at Hillsdale College on national security and foreign policy and I will deliver it with vim, vigor, and enthusiasm. And then tomorrow we’ve got some media appearances scheduled. So we’re going to continue until we complete our assessment over the next several days.”
“But if a decision is made, different than to plow ahead, you all will be the first to know,” he said. “So until that time, I want to continue to thank you all for your support, thank you for your prayers. It’s taken an emotional toll, but the people in the audience tonight will never know it. It’s also taken a toll on my wife and family, as you would imagine,” he concluded. “Any time you put another cloud of doubt, unfortunately, in the court of public opinion, for some people, you’re guilty until proven innocent. And so, the public will have to decide whether they believe her or whether they believe me. That’s why we’re going to give it time, to see what type of response we get from our supporters."
If Cain decides to drop out of the race, the media will likely chalk it up to the series of sexual allegations against him. That would certainly be part of the story, but I suspect his campaign's amateurish crisis management at nearly every turn was a bigger blot on his candidacy than the (still inconclusive) charges themselves. At the end of the day, though, Cain's expanding problem has been episodes like this, this, this, this, this, this, and this. Parting thought from Think Progress' (I know, I know) Judd Legum: "Once you allow it to be public that you are "reassessing" whether you are staying in, you aren't assessing anymore. You're out." Sounds right to me.
UPDATE - Cain spokesman JD Gordon (known recently for this performance) insists the candidate "is not thinking of dropping out of the race." Not even thinking about it, despite the confirmed reassessment? More mixed messages from Team Cain, or is this just a spokesman putting on a brave face?
UPDATE II - I discussed Team Cain's plight earlier this morning on FoxNews.com Live:
UPDATE III - Cain's campaign just sent out this fundraising email. Doesn't sound like he's going anywhere, and pulls no punches on his erstwhile "friend:"
Dear Patriots and Supporters,
As you probably heard yesterday, a troubled Atlanta business woman used national media outlets to promulgate a fabricated, unsubstantiated story about a 13 year affair with me. I am writing you today to assure you that this woman's story is completely false.
I do know Ms. White. I have helped her financially at times over the past few years, just as I have helped many friends and acquaintances throughout the years. I thought Ms. White was a friend in need of a supportive hand to better her life. Ms. White has made it apparent that she was abusing the friendship. But now I am asking for your friendship. I am also asking for your prayers and support. This is a trying time for my family, my campaign, and for me. It is also a trying time for our country as we are all distracted from the truly important issues facing our nation.
This evening I have an important speaking engagement at Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan, where I will be outlining my foreign policy and national security plan. While recent events have taken a toll on me, the people in the audience this evening will not know it. I will deliver my message with vigor and enthusiasm. Let me assure you, I am not deterred. America's future is too important. We will continue on this journey to make America great once again.