Herman Cain reassessing presidential candidacy

at 02:10 PM ET, 11/29/2011

Businessman Herman Cain told senior members of his campaign on a conference call this morning that he is reassessing whether or not to remain in the Republican presidential race.

On the conference call, which National Review listened to and transcribed, Cain denies the allegation of an affair with an Atlanta woman named Ginger White, which came to light on Monday, but acknowledged that the “firestorm” had caused a rethinking.

Cain said that he had reassessed his campaign over the summer, after the Ames Straw Poll and again after the Florida P5 Straw Poll, which he won. “We have to do an assessment as to whether or not this is going to create too much of a cloud, in some people’s minds, as to whether or not they would be able to support us going forth,” Cain said, according to the National Review transcript.

He noted that he will continue with his campaign schedule including a national security speech tonight at 6:30 p.m. at Hillsdale College in Michigan; “I will deliver it with vim, vigor, and enthusiasm,” said Cain of the speech on the conference call.

He suggested on the call that a decision will be made over the next few days and told supporters that “if a decision is made, different than to plow ahead, you all will be the first to know.”

Scott Plakon, a Florida state legislator and one of Cain’s campaign co-chairs in the state, said that the newest allegation “does present some practical considerations for the campaign, and they’re trying to figure out what those are…They’re just trying to figure out, in the next few days, where this leads them.” Added Plakon: “What that exactly means, I do not know.”

In another sign that Cain's support may be evaporating, the "Draft Herman Cain" committee notified the Federal Election Commission Tuesday that it was changing its name to the "Beat Obama Political Action Committee." The group has yet to report any contributions but has spent more than $44,000 in recent weeks in support of Cain, FEC records show. Treasurer Randy Goodwin, who formed the PAC in May, did not respond to a request for comment.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who has risen in the polls as Cain has slipped, was reticent to talk about the reassessment. “I have no comment on Mr. Cain,” said Gingrich. “He has to do what he thinks is best.” Added Gingrich: “This must be a painful period for him and his family.” Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s campaign also did not comment when contacted by The Fix.

But Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.), the only female candidate in the field, said that Cain was rethinking his position in the contest because he had no choice.

“I think they recognize that the support has really dropped out of their campaign because of those questions,” Bachmann told an Iowa radio host, referring to the harassment charges and the affair allegation.

Cain has been battered by bad press — centered on a series of allegations of sexual harassment leveled against him — for much of the past month.

His poll numbers have steadily spiraled downward since those allegations came to light.

In a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released just prior to Thanksgiving, Cain stood at 17 percent — down from 25 percent in a similar survey conducted a month ago.

While Cain claims to have had a major fundraising windfall in the past six weeks, his cash collection operation up until that point had sputtered. He raised $5.4 million in the first nine months of 2011 — including a $675,000 personal loan; that total puts him well behind the likes of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Cain’s collapse is largely attributable to his campaign’s absolute inability to effectively rebut or respond to the allegations brought against him.

The latest example? Cain spokesman J.D Gordon insisting that the campaign is moving “full speed ahead” and that “[Cain] is not thinking of dropping out of the race” even as the candidate himself contradicts that message.

Nia-Malika Henderson, David Fahrenthold and Amy Gardner contributed to this report.

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