The field of Republican candidates for President thinned slightly, and whitened considerably this week with the suspension of Herman Cain's campaign.
The former Godfather's Pizza CEO, fighting accusations of sexual harassment and the fallout from recent revelations of a 13-year extramarital affair, announced Friday that he would not be continuing his run for the presidency.
“Today with a lot of prayer and soul searching I am suspending my presidential campaign,” said Cain at an event in Altanta, Georgia. “I’m doing this because of the continued hurt caused on me and my family, not because we are not fighters, not because I’m not a fighter.”
Cain also said that he was proof that a "common man could lead this nation."
How exactly a millionaire suspending his first political campaign before receiving even a single vote could prove such a thing was left as an exercise for the student.
Cain thus wins the coveted Gary Hart trophy, awarded each election cycle to the first candidate to crash his campaign car due to a sex scandal. And, like Hart in 1988, Cain may well be leaving the door open to re-enter the race later; as he said, the campaign has only been "suspended." (Hart, driven from the Democratic race in 1988 after his affair with Donna Rice was documented in photographs, later re-entered, insisting on "letting the voters decide." Voters proceeded to point out that he had forgotten his pants.)
The chief beneficiary of Cain's "suspension" is expected to be former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who has effectively defused his own infidelity issues by prudently divorcing all the wives that he cheated on. That strategy appears to be serving him well in Iowa, where the first delegates will be chosen in a caucus in January. A recent poll in the Des Moines Register showed Gingrich with a clear lead in the state at 25%, followed by Ron Paul at 18% and Mitt Romney at 16%.
With the Cain campaign circling the drain for the past two weeks, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota staked her claim to the eight percent of Iowa voters who had previously supported him. This includes the coveted Barkingly Ignorant of History demographic that Cain had laid claim to with his lack of knowledge regarding China's nuclear capabilities (the Chinese tested their first warhead in 1964).
Bachmann told a crowd in Iowa on Wednesday that if she were president, "We wouldn't have an embassy in Iran."
The United States has not maintained an embassy in Iran since April of 1980, when it ended diplomatic relations during a hostage crisis that began with American embassy personnel being taken prisoner by Iranian student revolutionaries in November of 1979.
To be fair, forgettable images like this stopped dominating the news after the first year or so.
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