Sensing blood in the water, some of Herman Cain’s GOP competitors hinted Tuesday that it might be best for the businessman turned presidential contender to exit the race after allegations of a 13-year affair surfaced Monday, the latest in a series of accusations of harassment and infidelity.
Cain was first to suggest his days might be numbered, telling staff on a conference call Tuesday that he is “reassessing” his decision to remain in the race over the “next several days,” as first reported in the National Review and confirmed by ABC News.
“Now, with this latest [allegation,] 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 on the call.
While some GOP contenders, refused to weigh in on Cain’s fate, others suggested Cain should go. The strongest of those suggestions came from former Utah Gov. John Huntsman, who said talk of Cain’s alleged dalliances have distracted candidates from discussing more serious matters.
“Given the bandwidth that has been taken out of the discussion of any other issues pertinent to this campaign, a reconsideration might be in order,” Huntsman told the Boston Globe on Tuesday.
“You’ve got to be reconsidering, just based on how we have lost focus on the issues that really do matter,” Huntsman said. “Every time another accusation comes up, it diminishes our ability to stay focused on the issues that really do matter for the American people. And I think that’s a disservice to the voters.”
Rep. Michele Bachmann said Tuesday that the way Cain and his aides discussed ending his campaign, as a “reassessment,” was “coded language.”
Cain’s comment “is code language for the fact that they’re looking at the viability of their effort moving forward,” she told Jan Mickelson on his Iowa-based conservative radio show.
“I think they recognize that the support has really dropped off of the campaign because of those questions,” she said.
At an event in South Carolina, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told reporters, “My heart goes out to him. I hope he reaches the right decision for him, but he has to do what he thinks is best.”
Cain’s departure would ultimately help Romney most, according to an ABC News/ Washington Post poll conducted earlier this month.
Among Cain supporters, 28 percent said Romney was their second choice. Gingrich followed with 21 percent, Bachmann with 15 percent, Perry with 12 percent, and Paul with 9 percent.