ATLANTA — There was nothing funereal about the mood outside Herman Cain’s headquarters here this morning, no sign that the big speech that he is scheduled to deliver soon could be the last of his campaign.
A band set up outside the door of the new campaign office, strumming upbeat tunes. Caterers prepared platters of potato salad and barbecue, and volunteers laid out donation forms and collected names of supporters eager to lend a hand to the candidate.
This event was scheduled to be the ribbon-cutting for Cain’s national headquarters here, but recent allegations of infidelity leveled against the Republican hopeful and comments from the candidate that he is “reassessing” his political plans have led to speculation that he will be exiting the race.
Cain’s fundraising has dropped off since Ginger White, an Atlanta businesswoman, alleged that she carried on a 13-year extramarital affair with the married former Godfather’s Pizza chief executive. It capped a difficult month for the onetime front-runner, whose reputation was already damaged after four women accused him of sexually harassing them in the 1990s.
Cain has also made some high-profile stumbles on foreign policy.
But supporters here say that they’re confident that the major address he has promised to deliver today will be a declaration that he plans to stay in the contest and fight.
“I want him to stay on message, on target,” said Kay Godwin, a backer from southern Georgia who got to know Cain during his unsuccessful 2004 bid for U.S. Senate. “He’s one if the finest men I’ve ever known, and anyone who’s spent any time with him knows he’s a man of integrity.”
Alevada King, a conservative activist who has been in touch with the Cain family, said they have not yet shared their decision. “His family has been holding up well under these kinds of onslaughts. They are pillars of the community here,” said King, who is a niece of Martin Luther King, Jr. “It’s difficult, and you have to do a lot of praying. Mr. Cain and and his family are a praying people.”
King said Cain is not expected to speak to the public until 1:00 p.m.
Cain was scheduled to meet with close supporters and donors today prior to the event to give them advanced word of his decision, according to sources. He had previously said he would decide after speaking in person with his wife, Gloria, which he was scheduled to do Friday evening.
Krissah Thompson contributed to this report