ATLANTA ?Herman Cain bowed out of his presidential campaign Saturday, saying he was doing so because of ?the continued distraction, the continued hurt to me and my family? after a series of accusations of sexual impropriety.
?We had to come to this conclusion that it would be best to suspend this campaign. That?s the bad news. The good news is, the pundits would like for me to shut up, drop out and go away,? he said at what was to have been his hometown headquarters opening.Continue Reading
But Cain insisted that?s not going to happen, announcing the launch of a website to show ?the people are still in charge of this country,? he said ? by promoting his trademark 9-9-9 tax plan and other positions.
The decision from the former Godfather?s Pizza CEO and one-time GOP poll leader comes after a week of reassessment of his prospects, despite public defiance on the campaign trail.
But to a crowd that came to cheer on their support at what was to be a party ? and rarely felt like anything else than a fervid campaign rally ? Cain acknowledged the toll on his family and his campaign from a month of revelations of multiple sexual harassment allegations and a claim of an extramarital affair.
They?ve also, he said, made it impossible for him to talk about anything else on the trail.
?As false accusations continue, they have sidetracked my ability to present solutions to the American people,? Cain said.
Despite his decision, Cain said he had no plans to exit the public sphere.
?I am not going to be silenced, and I am not going away,? Cain declared, unveiling his ?Plan B.?
Plan A, he said, was to win the White House and change Washington from the inside, but ?Plan B is that we are going to have to change it from the outside.?
Cain supporters were visibly distraught, some crying and a few leaving before the Atlanta businessman finished his speech here. A handful lashed out at reporters, lamenting that the media had sunk their candidate.
?I don?t agree with it at all, but a man?s got to do what a man?s got to do,? said Danny Noble, who owns a small television shop near Birmingham, Ala.
Noble said he expects Cain to run again in four years. ?He?s not going anywhere,? he said.
Cain returned to his McDonough, Ga. home Friday for the first time since Ginger White said Monday that they?d had a 13-year sexual relationship. He?d said he was traveling back there to see his wife face-to-face for the first time since White told her story and decide with her how to proceed with a campaign that has plummeted in the polls.
His wife accompanied him to the announcement Saturday, making a rare appearance at his side on the trail. As Cain and his wife walked toward the podium, holding hands, supporters chanted her name, ?Gloria, Gloria.?
Cain cited his rags-to-riches biography ? a key element of his campaign ? repeatedly during the speech, as well as his outsider credentials.
?When I made the decision to run, I didn?t fit the usual description of somebody who?d already run for president,? Cain said, prompting one man in the crowd to yell ?Wouldn?t have supported you if you had!?
He rallied his supporters with reminders of how far they?d come, noting that he was in the top three in the Republican race, which with Barack Obama, put him in ?the final four? to be the next president.
?Proving that we could do this was one of the greatest gifts that you and I could give to this country,? Cain said. ?We have created some significant change on this journey so far?I am proof of that, and you are proof of that.?