Today Herman Cain announced that he is “suspending” his campaign for the Republican nomination for president. Cain said he was dropping out of the race because the continuing allegations about affairs and sexual harassment were a distraction and were hurting his family.
I have no doubt that Cain’s decision was motivated, at least in part, by the claims about his personal life and his desire to avoid the pain they were causing for his wife and family. I suspect, however, that his decision also involved cold-blooded evaluation of the political reality. Cain had a brief boom of popularity and attracted lots of attention with his 9-9-9 tax plan, but by the time of the most recent claims about his personal conduct the bloom already was off the Cain rose. He’d had debates where he had nothing much to say about anything other than his 9-9-9 plan and his campaign website, as well as other incidents that fed into a growing perception that he simply lacked the broad base of knowledge that you would prefer to have in a president. My guess is that Cain and his advisers realized that he wasn’t going to overcome those issues, and that he should get out while the getting was good.
With Cain’s departure, the Republican field narrows and the remaining candidate debates will become more manageable — and more comfortable to watch. In the meantime, Herman Cain has raised his profile, has increased his opportunities for speaking engagements to the faithful, and probably has sold a few books, besides.