by Michael H. Cottman, BlackAmericaWeb.com
Now that Herman Cain has derailed his own campaign train, the mad scramble to endorse one of the remaining GOP candidates for the White House has officially begun.
Rumors were circulating Monday that Cain would endorse new GOP frontrunner Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, but GOP presidential hopeful Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota appeared on CNN Monday claiming that her campaign had been inundated with calls from former Cain supporters saying they will now embrace her bid for president.
“One thing we’ve seen a lot of is Herman Cain supporters have been calling our office, and they’ve been coming over to our side,” Bachmann told CNN Monday. “Part of that is because people see that I’m the Tea Party candidate in the race, and they saw Herman Cain as an outsider, and I think they see that my voice would be the one that would be most reflective of his.”
Meanwhile, journalists and pundits are anxiously waiting for Cain to make some kind of endorsement. How much weight will a Cain endorsement really have? Does anyone really care? And does anyone really know for sure who Cain will endorse?
“Given his slide in the polls and unanswered questions he’s left behind, his endorsement will have minimal impact,” Karen Finney, a Democratic consultant and a political analyst for MSNBC, told BlackAmericaWeb.com Monday. “This is more about Cain’s ego than strategy.”
Still, there is plenty of speculation.
Mickey Carroll, the director of the Quinnipiac Polling Institute, said that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney stands to benefit from Cain supporters.
“They’ll go to whoever is the next flavor of the month,” Carroll told reporters. “Couple of months ago, it would have been [New Jersey Gov. Chris] Christie; before that, it would have been Bachmann. And they’ll probably wind up with Romney unless something happens.”
Already, according to a Public Policy Polling average of surveys in eight states released earlier this week, 38 percent of Cain backers listed Gingrich as their second choice.
“Cain’s supporters absolutely love Gingrich,” PPP pollster Tom Jensen wrote on his blog this week. “And they absolutely hate Mitt Romney.”
Gingrich has replaced Cain as the latest anti-establishment frontrunner, and their long friendship could give Gingrich a surge among GOP voters one month before the Iowa caucuses.
Before the announcement of his campaign’s suspension, Cain’s support had dwindled. The Des Moines Register poll out Saturday night had him down to 8 percent support among likely Iowa caucus voters. Meanwhile, Gingrich had surged to first place, at 25 percent, while Ron Paul had 18 percent, and Romney had 16 percent.
Gingrich said Sunday that he “appreciates” Cain’s reasons for bowing out, and praised the Atlanta businessman for having “the courage” to run for president.
“He deserves credit for having the courage to talk about big ideas and to focus on the economy,” Gingrich later told a town hall crowd of more than 500 at a Staten Island hotel. “I know he’s going to create a new citizen organization and stay active in public life.”
Gingrich told reporters that he spoke to Cain, but would not characterize the “personal conversation.” Asked if he anticipates to be the recipient of Cain’s endorsement, Gingrich responded, “I don’t anticipate anything. Herman Cain’s gotta make up his own mind.”
Gingrich has his own self-inflicted mess to clean up. On Monday, Gingrich tried to clarify his assertions that U.S. child labor laws are “truly stupid” and arguing that poor children living in public housing should be given work as janitors in their schools. He has said that under current conditions, poor children do not develop proper working habits.
“I’ve been talking about the importance of work, particularly as it relates to people who are in areas where there is public housing, et cetera, where there are relatively few people that go to work,” Gingrich told reporters Monday. “And this has been interestingly distorted by some people who suggest that the working poor by definition know how to work, which is true – this is why they’re called the working poor. I was talking about people who come out of areas and neighborhoods where they may not have that experience.”
Meanwhile, Cain torpedoed his own campaign – and frankly, Cain was never going to be the Republican nominee for president anyway. Cain knew it, and some of his aides new it, too.
With his wife, Gloria, standing by his side, Cain, the black Republican presidential candidate who faced sexual harassment claims and was accused of having a 13-year extramarital affair, announced that he is dropping out of the presidential race Saturday, but fiercely denied the allegations against him.
“With a lot of prayer and soul searching, I am suspending my presidential campaign, because of the continued distraction, the continued hurt on me and my family, not because we’re not fighters,” Cain said.
The former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza left the crowd with a defiant vow: “I am not going to be silenced, and I am not going away.”