Herman Cain announced today that he is suspending his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, because of “the continued hurt” caused by claims of sexual harassment and a 13-year extramarital affair that he called “false accusations” that have created a “cloud of doubt over me and my family.”
“With a lot of prayer and soul searching, I am suspending my presidential campaign, because of the continued distraction, the continued hurt on me and my family,” he said outside his campaign headquarters in Atlanta.
But he told the crowd he was shifting to “Plan B” in an effort to remain relevant in national politics.
“I am not going to be silenced and I’m not going away,” Cain said, announcing the launch of TheCainSolutions.com, a new organization, which he said would continue to promote his policy ideas, including his signature 9-9-9 economic recovery plan.
He also promised: “I will be making an endorsement in the near future.”
“I am disappointed that it came to this point, that we had to make this decision,” Cain said.
He also cited his inability to raise the “necessary funds to be competitive.”
During his remarks, he repeatedly rejected the allegations of sexual harassment and a more than decade-long affair with a woman.
“That spin hurts — it hurts my wife, it hurts my family, it hurts me, it hurts the American people because you are being denied solutions to our problems,” he said. “My wife, my family and I — we know that those false and unproved allegations are not true.”
“I am at peace with my God, I am at peace with my wife and she is at peace with me,” Cain said as the crowd chanted her name, “Gloria! Gloria!”
“But as false accusations about me continue, they have sidetracked and distracted my ability to present solutions to the American people,” he said.”
He also recalled the better days of his presidential bid.
“If you look at the top three Republican candidates right now and if you consider the president in the White House, we can say, I’m in the final four,” he said. “We’re in the final four.”
Cain said he was “honored by the deep support of so many people across this country.”
“As usual, the Cain supporters are not warm weather supporters, and I can’t thank all of you enough for what you’ve done, how far we have come and the things that we have done,” Cain said.
He acknowledged that he “did not fit the usual description” of a presidential candidate and that when he started his unlikely presidential bid earlier this year, few people knew who he was.
But all that changed, Cain said: “Right now my name I.D. is probably 99.9,” he said in a joking reference to his 9-9-9 plan.
“I chose to run for president because the politicians in Washington, D.C., wouldn’t do their jobs, that’s why I chose to run,” Cain said. “They have failed to provide economic growth, they have failed to get spending under control. They have failed to make us less dependent on foreign oil. These are some of the reasons that inspired me to run for president.
“The people in Washington, D.C., are either playing the blame game or pointing fingers or throwing crumbs to the American people rather than bold solutions,” Cain said, adding: “America deserves more than that.”
The former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza made the announcement after a series of speakers praised him to the cheering crowd.
Once the frontrunner in the Republican polls, Cain’s candidacy has been battered by allegations of sexual harassment and later allegations of a long-term affair.
Michele Bachmann’s communications director told ABC News that Herman Cain’s campaign has been reaching out this morning to officials with rival campaigns.
Bachmann spokeswoman Alice Stewart said she was one of who received a call. She did not say what, if any, announcement was communicated, but Stewart added: “We’ve received numerous inquiries from supporters and staffers in the various states about shifting their support from Cain to Michele.”
And as the crowd waited outside Cain’s headquarter for his decision, some influential Republicans were already declaring Cain’s campaign finished.
“Virtuous or not, declaring in or out, however we feel for him, Herman Cain’s campaign is over,” Iowa Rep. Steve King tweeted this morning. “I thank him as a friend and wish him well.”
Cain’s problems began in October, when Politico reported that two women had accused Cain of sexual harassment and misconduct while he was CEO of the National Restaurant Association (NRA) from 1996 to 1999.
Since then, two other women have also accused Cain of harassment.
Cain acknowledged that the NRA paid off the two women, but has denied there was any truth to the accusations against him.
Then last week, a Georgia woman, Ginger White, said she had a 13-year lavish affair with Cain, allegations that Cain denied even before she went public with her claim. White said she and Cain spent many nights in a ritzy Atlanta hotel, he showered her with gifts and paid for her to travel to events where he was speaking.
The affair ended just before Cain announced his presidential campaign, according to White.
Two weeks before White’s accusation, Cain’s wife of 43 years, Gloria, made a rare public appearance to defend her husband in the wake of accusations of sexual misconduct by several other women.