The self-control displayed by Herman Cain’s closest staff was Amazing. As the candidate approached the podium on Saturday afternoon half of the pundits were predicting he would drop out, while remainder said he was staying . As for me, I was hoping that with the media and all the political wonks watching, Cain (who has a very quick wit) would get up and say, “I just saved 15% on my car insurance….” It would have been the perfect addition to what has been a very weird primary season.
On Saturday however, the former head of Godfather’s Pizza played it straight, Cain announced the suspension of his campaign and formation of a political action committee, Cain solutions.com. The now-former candidate blamed his exit on the mainstream media and the “bimbo eruption” which began with reports sexual harassment during his tenure at the National Restaurant Association. His rhetoric ignored that whether Herman Cain had the affair or harassed those women or whether he didn’t, Cain has only himself to blame for the failure of his campaign.
Before Politico broke the sexual harassment story they spent 10 days repeatedly trying to get the Cain campaign to respond directly about whether he ever faced allegations of sexual harassment when he was at the Restaurant Association. The campaign was also asked about specific reports confirming there were financial settlements in two cases in which women leveled complaints.
Not only did the campaign refuse to answer the questions, but even more disastrous is they had a ten-day-lead to figure out a strategy to address the charges and did absolutely nothing. When the charges were made public, Cain bungled his answers and evaded the questions.
Cain said he has “had thousands of people working for me” at different businesses over the years and could not comment “until I see some facts or some concrete evidence.” His campaign staff was given the name of one woman who complained last week, and it was repeated to Cain on Sunday. He responded, “I am not going to comment on that.”
He was then asked, “Have you ever been accused, sir, in your life of harassment by a woman?”
He breathed audibly, glared at the reporter and stayed silent for several seconds. After the question was repeated three times, he responded by asking the reporter, “Have you ever been accused of sexual harassment?”
With those charges, Cain began to self destruct and began to act a bit weird. he jokingly wondered whether Anita Hill would endorse him. Cain declaration that he would be choosey about which campaign he would join as VP (something not done while running for the top spot). Probably the most damaging incident was his interview with the editorial board of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and stumbled badly when asked if he supported what President Obawma had done in Libya.
“Okay, Libya,” he says. Long pause. “President Obama,” pause, “supported,” pause, “the uprising, correct? President Obama called for the removal of Qaddafi. Just want to make sure we’re talking about the same thing before I say, yes I agreed or no I didn’t agree. Um, I do not agree with the way he handled it for the following reason. Um. Nope, that’s a different one. Um.” Pauses, adjusts chair, adjusts jacket. “I got to go back, see, uh,” pause, “got all this stuff twirling around in my head. Um. Specifically, what did you ask me did I agree or not disagree with Obama?”
He seemed like a deer frozen in the head lights. Foreign policy was not the only topic that confused him. At a different part of the interview he spoke about his support of collective bargaining for Public Employees (sort of), something that has placed a crippling burden on the state and federal government.
Asked if he thought federal employees should have the ability to bargain collectively, Cain said: “They already have it, don’t they?”
Told they didn’t, he said, “They have unions.”
The American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 600,000 federal government workers in 65 agencies, says that most federal employees don’t have collective bargaining over pay and benefits. They do have collective bargaining rights over working conditions.
Immediately after that interview the Cain campaign put out the word the strange answers were caused by the candidate’s lack of a good night’s sleep the prior night. But that is little consolation for most voters. Remember that Hilary Clinton “phone call at 3AM” commercial? Based on his Milwaukee performance, GOP voters began to feel uncomfortable about the prospect of a tired Herman Cain getting that middle-of-the-night phone call.
During his Saturday withdrawal speech, Cain promised that he would soon endorse one of the remaining candidates, that candidate will most probably be Newt Gingrich. While it might seem strange that a man who campaigned as an outsider would support a candidate who’s critics call the ultimate insider, the choice seems inevitable.
It wouldn’t be Romney, remember when asked if he would join a campaign as VP, the Romney candidacy was the only one he named as not wanting to join. I don’t see him endorsing Ron Paul. Santorum and Bachman were perhaps the harshest critic of the 9-9-9 plan, so its unlikely that Cain would support either of the two, nor would he endorse Huntsman the most liberal of GOP candidates.
Cain and Gingrich have always displayed good relations and one of the criticisms of their “Lincoln-Douglas” type debate was they seemed to agree on almost everything.In the end Cain will flirt with all the remaining candidates but will end up in the Gingrich camp.
Cain was an important piece of the GOP candidate dialogue. His 9-9-9 plan, though imperfect, was a radical change to the tax system and forced some of the other candidates to “shake up” their plans as well. Sadly, it was Herman Cain’s own mistakes and his rather than his policies that made Saturday’s announcement and the coming endorsement dance necessary.