Photograph by Scott Olson/Getty Images.
UPDATE: As should come as no surprise by now, Cain and his staff aren't exactly on the same page.
After the Atlanta businessman suspended his campaign over the weekend, one of his aides told the Washington Post that an "endorsement announcement is coming soon." So, naturally, Cain had this to say Monday during a conference call with his staff and supporters: "I am not endorsing anybody today or in the very immediate future," he said, according to NBC News, which listened in on the call. "I can't say I won't endorse, but not in the immediate timeframe."
In hindsight, it's not exactly a surprise that Cain would want to keep what little powder he has left dry for as long as he can. Once he does make an announcement on who he's backing for the GOP nomination, he'll largely be resigned to the political sidelines (at least until the inevitable VP speculation starts).
"It's gonna happen, it's gonna happen," Cain said of an eventual endorsement. "I have a process in mind that I'm going to go through in order to determine who I could possibly endorse. ... It won't happen today. Most likely, it won't happen this week. They can calm down about that expectation."
Monday, Dec. 5: Unnamed sources tell Atlanta's Fox 5 that Herman Cain will endorse Newt Gingrich sometime Monday.
The local affiliate—the same one that broke the Ginger White affair story—reports that the exact details of the endorsement were still being worked out Monday morning, but notes that the Gingrich campaign has a 2 p.m. press conference in New York scheduled. That presser follows a scheduled meeting between Gingrich and Donald Trump.
Since Cain suspended his campaign on Saturday, much of the political world has been abuzz with speculation over who the Atlanta businessman will back for the GOP nomination, with many predicting that Gingrich would be the winner of the Cain sweepstakes.
A Cain aide described Gingrich and Cain as "good friends" to the Washington Post over the weekend and promised that an "endorsement announcement is coming soon." Still, as with all things Cain-related, the endorsement's timing is proving difficult to predict. A Gingrich spokesperson, for one, told the Post that no endorsement is expected Monday.
Saturday, Dec. 3: The Herman Cain train has officially gone off the rails.
After a litany of accusations of sexual harassment and an extramarital affair, Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain has announced that he won't continue his run for president.
“Today with a lot of prayer and soul searching I am suspending my presidential campaign,” said Cain at an event in Altanta. “I’m doing this because of the continued hurt caused on me and my family, not because we are not fighters, not because I’m not a fighter.”
Cain said that political elites and the media, whom he described as separate classes as “we the people,” had worked to “Create a cloud of doubt over me and this campaign and my family. That spin hurts. It hurts my wife, it hurts me, and it hurts the American people, because you are being denied solutions to our problems.”
But Cain had a “plan B,” which he said could be found at “TheCainSolutions.com.” He promised to push his tax plan further and to endorse another candidate “soon.”
A crowd of supporters waited over an hour to see the candidate appear at the Atlanta event, which featured plenty of local politicians and other Cain boosters, some Thomas Jefferson quotes and some original music—like the now-viral song "Rock You Like Herman Cain." It didn’t have the appearance of a campaign-ending announcement. Greeting supporters who chanted among other things his wife Gloria, and cheered when he said he had never held public office before, Cain said that he was proof that a "common man could lead this nation."
"I can't thank all of you enough for what you've done--what we've done," said Cain. "The people in Washington, D.C., are either playing the blame game, pointing fingers, or throwing crumbs to the American people rather than offering bold solutions to big problems."
But Cain also said that politics was a dirty game, and that the establishment had worked to undermine his chances at becomming president. Cain's move comes in the wake of some very difficult weeks for the conservative front-runner, during which he has claimed he would continue in his quest for the White House despite an increasing chorus of people who believe accusations of sexual misconduct have derailed his efforts.
Cain’s latest accuser, Ginger White, said early this week the candidate had a 13-year affair with her. Cain denied the allegation and said that he was merely trying to help a friend who desperately needed money. His response was already familiar, as a refrain heard from the candidate in reaction to other women who have suggested he sexually harassed them.
This week Cain launched a new website aimed at fighting drooping support from female voters, called Women for Cain. But it also came out that Cain hadn’t spoken to his wife since Gloria White first claimed the affair. He said he was heading to Atlanta to have a serious conversation with his wife about the future of his campaign ... and hold an event that would mark the end of his run.
And despite a strong showing in the polls before rumors of the former Goodfellas C.E.O., it’s no longer just pundits who are saying it’s time for Cain to bow out. A national Rasmussen poll of likely 2012 voters shows 51 percent of respondents saying he should end his campaign, while 28 percent disagree and 21 percent are unsure.
Friday Dec. 2 at 8:23 p.m.: A source close to Herman Cain tells NBC News that the one-time Republican frontrunner has decided that he will drop out of the GOP race to protect his family.
Earlier Friday, Cain promised he would make a "major announcement" in Atlanta on Saturday that would lay out his next steps. Many have speculated that he will announce an end to his campaign at the afternoon event, but Cain has proved more than a little unpredictable during his run for the White House. As NBC's Andrea Mitchell, who was the one to report Cain's likely exit, put it herself, "no decision is final until Herman Cain delivers it."
Still, she reported that the Atlanta business man has already canceled a private dinner party in New York City on Sunday with "big media stars" and that most signs point to a Cain exit.
Friday, Dec. 2 at 3:40 p.m.: Herman Cain will make a "major announcement" in Atlanta on Saturday. What it will be, however, appears to be anyone's guess.
The GOP hopeful said Thursday that he would make a decision by Monday on whether he will stay in the race for the nomination, so the obvious guess is that the announcement will answer the question of whether he will drop out in the face of the latest allegations of misconduct (namely, carrying on a 13-year affair with Ginger White). But other guesses include everything from the unveiling of a new endorsement to merely taking the mic, yelling "Nine, Nine, NINE!" and walking off stage.
Friday, Dec. 2 at 12:32 p.m.: Herman Cain says his wife didn't find out about Ginger White or the money that the GOP candidate gave her as a friend until White went public with her claims of an affair earlier this week -- but judging from Cain's campaign site it appears as though Gloria has her husband's back.
Team Cain unveiled "Women for Cain" on Friday, which the campaign is billing as an "online national fellowship of women dedicated to helping elect Herman Cain as the next President of the United States." The group's national chair: Gloria Gain.
From the site:
Gloria Cain ... is the very special woman who Mr. Cain devoted his life to many years ago. Mr. Cain and Gloria celebrated their 43rd wedding anniversary earlier this year. The couple has two children and three grandchildren and a legacy of family, friends, and community and church involvement.
Cain has previously said that he would decide whether to stay in the GOP race after talking things over with his wife, so the new online effort at least suggests that she may have given her blessing for the one-time frontrunner to continue despite his sagging poll numbers.
The site invites women to share their stories about Cain and the testimonial section, presumably curated by the campaign, includes a number of female supporters who, in the words of Talking Points Memo, offer "brutal attacks against the women who have accused Cain of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and infidelity."
Here's one example, from Barbara Dayan of Nipomo, California, who offers the following advice to Gloria Cain:
Dear Mrs. Cain Don't pay attention to these pathetic husbandless women who are jealous of women like you in happy long-term marriages. These vindictive women can't find a husband or keep one. They are like stalkers who try to latch on to any man who shows a bit of kindness or attention to them. When these unstable women come out of the woodwork to make accusations about Herman just say, "Honey, get a life, I believe my husband." We want you to be our First Lady Mrs. Cain!
The "Women for Cain" page is topped with a banner showing a diverse group of four smiling, thumbs-up wielding women, although a number of outlets have already picked up on the fact that the image is a stock photo. CBS News with more: "Among the keywords for the photo listed on the Shutterstock website are 'cheerfulness,' 'fun,' 'teenager,' 'trust,' 'victory' and 'winner.'"
Friday, Dec. 2 at 10:05 a.m.: Herman Cain says he will decide whether he will drop out of the race for the GOP nomination by the start of next week.
"I’m going to make a decision before Monday," he told Sean Hannity on Fox News on Thursday evening. "We haven’t worked out the logistics yet. The decision could be, we’re going to continue with this campaign full speed ahead. The decision could be that we’re going to suspend the campaign. That‘s why I’m doing the reassessment."
The Republican candidate's comments were the first time he has set a hard deadline for making a decision about the future of his campaign in the wake of the latest allegations of misconduct against him.
Earlier this week, Cain told senior staffers—and later reporters who asked—that he was "reassessing" his campaign, although at the time he pushed back against those who interpreted that term as a signal that he was considering dropping out of the race.
"The definition of reassess is: To consider again, esp. while paying attention to new factors. Doesn't sound like dropping out ...." Cain said in a message posted to his official Twitter account on Tuesday, one day after Ginger White came forward to claim the two had a 13-year affair together.
Also Thursday, Cain told the New Hampshire Union Leader’s editorial board that he repeatedly helped White out with her "month-to-month bills and expenses," but never had a sexual affair with her as she has claimed.
The Atlanta business man also said that his wife was unaware of White or the financial support that he gave her until she came forward publicly. "My wife now knows," Cain told the newspaper. "My wife and I have talked about it, and I have explained it to her. My wife understands that I'm a soft-hearted, giving person."
Wednesday, Nov. 30: The Cain Train is rolling on for now.
ABC News reports that at an Ohio event Wednesday morning, the GOP candidate told a crowd of supporters that he is a victim of "character assassination."
"They're attacking my character, my reputation and my name in order to try and bring me down, but you see I don't believe that America is going to let that happen," Herman Cain told a crowd of about 100 supporters. "I happen to believe that 'we the people' are still in charge of this country."
He continued: "They’ve been trying to do character assassination on me. ... Some of them even predicted that this room would be empty today. I don’t think I see any empty seats in here."
After giving his speech, Cain stuck to his campaign's script, telling reporters that he is still "reassessing" his campaign in the wake of Ginger White's claims, but that "reassessing" does not necessarily mean dropping out of the race. "Reassessment means reevaluation," he said, adding that there has been "a groundswell of positive support" in the wake of the latest claims of misconduct to rock his campaign.
Wednesday, Nov. 30: Rick Perry said on Wednesday that Herman Cain can't ignore Ginger White's claim that she and the Atlanta businessman had a "very casual" 13-year-long affair.
"He needs to address these allegations. That’s the bottom line," Perry said in an interview with Fox and Friends. "He needs to address the allegations, and if they’re true he has to address that with the people of this country."
The comments were Perry's first on the latest allegations of misconduct against his GOP rival. On Tuesday he remained quiet on the issue despite being peppered with questions about it by reporters on the campaign trail.
CBS News points out that when Perry was repeatedly asked earlier this month about the sexual harassment claims against Cain, the Texan said he preferred to wait to comment on the issue until something was proven.
Tuesday night, Cain pushed back against reports that he was considering dropping out of the GOP race in the wake of White's recent claim, tweeting: "The definition of reassess is: To consider again, esp. while paying attention to new factors. Doesn't sound like dropping out..."
Tuesday, Nov. 29: Herman Cain has told his staff that he is "reassessing" his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, unnamed senior aides have told multiple media outlets, including the New York Times and CNN.
One source tells CNN that Cain is expected to make a decision on the viability of his campaign "within a few days" after his team gets a better look at how the latest allegations impact his fundraising. A second source tells the news channel that, for now, Cain plans to move forward with his schedule as planned, including a speech later Tuesday in Michigan. The Washington Post reports that Cain will likely make a decision on whether to continue his campaign by the end of the week.
The GOP candidate delivered the news to staff on a morning conference call, which was first reported by the National Review Online. During the call, Cain reportedly told his senior staff that he was discussing the future of his campaign with his family and weighing options for his next move.
"This is cause for reassessment," Cain said, according to one source who spoke with the Times. "During the summer we had to make some reassessments based on our financial situation. We were able to hang in there." The one-time GOP front-runner added that "we have to do an assessment as to whether or not this [the reports of the alleged affair] is going to create too much of a cloud in some peoples’ minds as to whether or not they should support us going forward."
Monday, Nov. 28 at 6:27 p.m.: An Atlanta woman is claiming that she had a 13-year-long extramarital affair with Herman Cain that ended eight months ago, shortly before the Georgia businessman launched his presidential campaign.
"It was pretty simple," the woman, Ginger White, told Atlanta's FOX 5 News in an exclusive interview that was broadcast Monday evening. "It wasn't complicated. I was aware that he was married. And I was also aware I was involved in a very inappropriate situation, relationship."
Cain denies having had an affair with the woman. His lawyer, meanwhile, maintains that the issue is a private matter and that the media should not be reporting on it.
White said that she came forward to tell her story to make sure that she had the chance to do so before someone else told it for her, and that she has extensive phone records to back up her version of events. "I wanted to give my side, before it was thrown out there and made out to be something filthy," White said. "Some people will look at this and say that is exactly what it is. I'm sorry for that."
FOX 5 reports that White filed a sexual harassment claim against a former employer in 2001, a case that was later settled. She also reportedly filed for bankruptcy more than 20 years ago in Kentucky.
White said that she is currently an unemployed single mother of two who is struggling to make ends meet, and that Cain had helped her in the past with rent money.
She said that she met Cain in the late 1990s, when he gave a presentation in Louisville, Kentucky, while serving as president of the National Restaurant Association. She said the two of them had drinks together afterward and later went to his hotel room where he invited her to meet him in Palm Springs.
Over the next 13 years, White claims, Cain would fly her to cities where he was speaking, and that the pair often stayed at the Ritz Carlton in Buckhead and dined at The Four Seasons restaurant, according to the report.
The local Fox affiliate began promoting its scoop Monday afternoon ahead of the 6 p.m. broadcast, claiming in an online promo that Cain "denies the affair, but not a relationship."
According to the outlet, Cain initially called White's claims "more false allegations." But in an appearance on CNN shortly before FOX 5 News published an excerpt of the interview but after the news outlet had contacted Cain, the GOP hopeful stopped short of accusing White of lying. Still, he nonetheless stressed that he had never had sex with her and that he did not consider their relationship to have constituted an affair.
"At this point I'm just simply saying these things are going to come out and until we know what they are, then my attorney doesn't know what to respond to," Cain told Wolf Blitzer. Although the Republican did concede that the woman making the claim was "someone that I know who is an acquaintance that I thought was a friend."
Asked if he had sex with the woman, Cain responded "No" twice.
However, in a written statement to FOX 5 before it aired its story, Cain's lawyer, Lin Wood, took a significantly different tack, suggesting that the issue was a private matter and that it was out of bounds in terms of what the media should be focused on.
"No individual, whether a private citizen, a candidate for public office or a public official, should be questioned about his or her private sexual life," Wood said. "The public's right to know and the media's right to report has boundaries and most certainly those boundaries end outside of one's bedroom door."
Wood added that Cain "has no obligation" to discuss the latest accusations publicly and that "he will not do so even if his principled position is viewed unfavorably by members of the media."
Wood's statement left it unclear whether Cain's team would likewise remain mum on the topic. But during his appearance on CNN, the GOP candidate suggested that that job would fall to Wood.
"I can’t control people who are going to make a decision based upon accusations," Cain said. "When specifics are made, through my attorney – because we’re trying to run a campaign, we’re trying to connect with the people on the issues – through my attorney we will respond to every detail and every allegation.”
[You can read Slate's Will Saletan on the new round of allegations, and how Cain is daring his latest sexual accuser to prove her story, here. "Cain will go on playing this game until somebody proves he’s lying—or until we decide that what’s already been divulged is evidence enough."]
The Cain team's response to the latest round of accusations is markedly different from the campaign's handling of the previous allegations of sexual harassment that surfaced at the end of October. Cain's camp initially denied that entire story before later offering an evolving response that eventually conceded that the details of the original Politico report were correct.
Here is Wood's full statement to FOX 5:
"Mr. Cain has been informed today that your television station plans to broadcast a story this evening in which a female will make an accusation that she engaged in a 13-year long physical relationship with Mr. Cain. This is not an accusation of harassment in the workplace – this is not an accusation of an assault - which are subject matters of legitimate inquiry to a political candidate.
"Rather, this appears to be an accusation of private, alleged consensual conduct between adults - a subject matter which is not a proper subject of inquiry by the media or the public. No individual, whether a private citizen, a candidate for public office or a public official, should be questioned about his or her private sexual life. The public's right to know and the media's right to report has boundaries and most certainly those boundaries end outside of one's bedroom door.
"Mr. Cain has alerted his wife to this new accusation and discussed it with her. He has no obligation to discuss these types of accusations publicly with the media and he will not do so even if his principled position is viewed unfavorably by members of the media."