Cain suspends campaign, vows to continue working from outside the race

A defiant Herman Cain maintained that various allegations of sexual impropriety plaguing him were untrue, but nonetheless suspended his presidential campaign Saturday.

Saying the “false and unproven accusations” have had a “tremendous painful price on my family,” Cain told supporters that he had little choice but to halt his run for the Republican presidential nomination.

"As of today, with a lot of prayer and soul searching, I am suspending my presidential campaign," Cain said.

ADVERTISEMENT
While maintaining his innocence, Cain said multiple allegations of sexual misbehavior had cast a “cloud of doubt over me and this campaign and my family.”

He added that the allegations made it difficult to “continue to raise the necessary funds to be competitive.”

“We had to come to this conclusion,” he said.

Cain made the announcement in front of what was supposed to be his new campaign headquarters in Atlanta. After a number of supportive speeches from Cain supporters in front of an enthusiastic crowd, Cain appeared hand in hand with his wife, Gloria. Cain earlier in the week said he was heading home to discuss the recent allegations with his wife and to determine the future course of his campaign, but said Saturday the two were at peace with each other.

He also announced that he planned to endorse another GOP candidate “in the near future,” and within moments of his speech praise poured in from his former Republican competitors.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a fellow Georgian, tweeted praise for Cain.

"I am proud to know Herman Cain and consider him a friend and I know he will continue to be a powerful voice for years to come," Gingrich said. "Herman Cain’s 999 plan got our country talking about the critical issue of tax reform and he elevated the dialogue of the primary."

"Herman Cain provided an important voice to this process," Rep. Michele Bachmann said in a statement. "His ideas and energy generated tremendous enthusiasm for the conservative movement at a time it was so desperately needed to restore confidence in our country."

From Texas Gov. Rick Perry: "I know this was a difficult decision for Herman Cain, his family and his supporters. He helped invigorate conservative voters and our nation with a discussion of major tax reform."

And former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman said, "Herman Cain offered a unique and valuable voice to the debate over how to reform our country's uncompetitive tax code and turn around the economy."

Cain, the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza who has never held elected office, surged to the top of some polls in the fall as conservative voters searched for a Republican candidate other than former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

But his climb hit a ceiling after multiple allegations emerged that he sexually harassed women, including two such claims that the National Restaurant Association paid to settle when he was ran the organization. A woman named Ginger White also came forward and claimed that she and Cain had had a 13-year extramarital affair, which Cain has denied.

However, the one-time long-shot GOP candidate maintained he would be continuing to push his ideas and philosophy in the public eye.

“The pundits would like for me shut up, drop out and go away,” he said. “I am not going to be silenced and I’m not going away!”

Rather, he said he wanted to continue to push his policy proposals, including his “9-9-9” tax reform plan, as an outsider. He used his suspension speech to promote a new website, thecainsolutions.com. The site currently consists of a single page inviting supporters to sign up to be notified when the full site goes live.

As he exited the race, Cain prided himself on making it so far, despite his unusual pedigree.

“Proving that we could do this is one of the greatest gifts that you and I could give to this country,” he said. “I am proof that a common man can lead this nation because I consider myself one of you, not one of the political elites.”

Erik Wasson contributed.

This story was last updated at 2:40 p.m.