The former lobbyist, FED official, and Godfather of a pizza chain may be forced out of the Republican presidential primary race because of mounting allegations of sexual misconduct. His peculiar campaign and exotic policy proposals may not be sufficient to stem the tide of defeat.
This week, Hermann Cain told Fox News that he was examining his campaign prospects and will decide by next week if he should exit the race or continue to resist calls to fold his campaign and abandon his efforts. For the past several months, Cain has enjoyed a comfortable position among the media's anointed Republican "top-tier." After enjoying success in Florida and early support (and interest) in his "9-9-9 Tax Plan," Cain secured a temporary place within the Republican leading contenders category. Despite odd pronouncements on immigration and inconsistent positions on social issues ranging from abortion to same-sex marriage, Cain persisted in performing well in polling results.
The last month or so has not been such an enjoyable time for the Godfather, though.
Just recently, reports broke that Cain had been accused of sexual harassing several women throughout the 1990s; one allegation turned into two, then three, and then four. Which each additional allegation, Cain became more defiant and, at times, vitriolic. Cain's continued insistence on his innocence has morphed into a somewhat comedic event.
At a campaign rally in Dayton, Ohio this week, Cain again emphatically proclaimed his innocence, adding: "They're attacking my character, my reputation, and my name in order to try to bring me down. But, you see, I don't believe that America is going to let that happen." Cain provided just the amount of necessary succor to the bees in the hive: his zealot-like, defiant attitude shined through. "They"--those evil people, from the Dems to the accusers--are trying to dismantle his ascending campaign. It is a conspiracy, dear blog readers of mind, to remove the Godfather. This is the implicit message that Cain and his campaign staff are providing at these rallies. And the message is, of course, smart.
A rally tends to bring out the party faithful--the loyalists who are committed to the party and the party's platform. Cain's rhetoric should surely be parallel to the sensibilities of these audiences. In two simple sentences, Cain articulates two notions that GOP party followers love: the idea of the evil "they" and the goodness of America. Cain advances the idea that he has faith in an America that will not allow the evil accusers to take-down his campaign.
It is too soon to assess the true damage of these allegations. In the beginning, Cain almost seemed to have enjoyed a dump in the polls, courtesy of the first allegation ... or, at the very least, did not cede any coveted ground to his opponents. As the allegations mount, however, Cain may come to see "the writing on the wall." The GOP candidates' polling performance is something interesting on its own: both Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich have enjoyed recent bumps in the polls, ahead of the Iowa caucus on January 3. Romney seems to be secure in his "go nowhere" position on or near the top. Cain's vaunted status, on the other hand, may be dismantled by party machinations rather than sexual allegations. If this be true, then American politics will manage to reveal another aspect of its character--that sexual allegations are not, on their own, enough to discredit a politician's campaign. But, perhaps, this is not new: after all, sexual misconduct did not bring down Bill Clinton!
My recommendation for Herman Cain is to wait to make a decision until after the Iowa caucus on January 3. He should seriously assess his campaign after the Iowa results are revealed--not before. My hunch is that Cain's support system is slowly eroding and, absent a steady stream of campaign funds and grassroots support, will fail to mount a credible challenge to Romney, et. al.
I must say, though, that getting out before Iowa is weak, and the Godfather cannot be weak.