Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain, already reeling from sex harassment claims and rocked anew by allegations of adultery, has told supporters he was preparing to make a major announcement today.
That set off widespread speculation Friday that the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, who briefly enjoyed front-runner status in the Republican presidential campaign, would drop out of the race.
Cain, whose lack of elective experience and businessman’s approach to issues appealed to voters weary of career politicians, refused to tip his hand Friday in South Carolina, where he held a town hall meeting with supporters.
“I am reassessing because of all of this media firestorm stuff,” he said. “Why? Because my wife and family comes first.” He planned to meet with his family, he said, to “clarify … what the next steps are.”
Steve Grubbs, who is running Cain’s campaign in Iowa, said he believes Cain will stay in the race.
“As dark as it seems today, we’re not out of this thing, I know it,” Grubbs said Friday.
Despite Cain’s sinking poll numbers, Grubbs said, he believes Cain is still competitive in the state, where a month from now caucus goers will cast the nation’s first votes in the 2012 race. “If we could finish in the top three in Iowa,” said Grubbs, “then Katie bar the door.”
But other political observers were less sanguine, given the varied problems faced by Cain.
“I think the indecision coming from this campaign is just killing him,” said Craig Robinson, founder of the Iowa Republican, an influential website. The adultery charge has hurt Cain, said Robinson, “but what absolutely killed him here is his inability to articulate the pro-life position and his inability to articulate a position on Libya.”
If Cain were to leave the race, he will become the second major Republican to bow out before the first votes were cast. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty left the field in August after a disappointing finish at the Iowa Straw Poll.