Herman Cain was "somber" when he told a staffers that he would "reassess" whether the latest allegation of sexual impropriety made it impossible to continue his campaign, but by Tuesday night Cain had his game face back on. The National Review reported Cain told them he was considering whether Ginger White's allegations of a 13-year affair "is going to create too much of a cloud in some people's minds" to support him. But a few hours later Cain said he was merely reassessing his campaign strategy, not the campaign itself, in an interview with The Collegian after a foreign policy address at Hillsdale College. "The media think that it is black-and-white, go or no-go. They’re focusing on the allegations. The political establishment, they’re looking at it from the perspective that I should never have been in the race in the first place,” Cain told the college paper. “But the people had a different idea. That’s who I’m listening to. The reassessment isn’t based on what the media wants, or what the establishment wants, but what the people want. I listen to the people.”
Those few hours Tuesday might have been the only time Cain -- author of such works as The C.E.O. of Self and the somewhat premature This Is Herman Cain! My Journey to the White House -- has felt the sting of self-doubt in many years. T.A. Frank chronicled Cain's "healthy self-regard" for The New York Times Magazine earlier this month ("It takes self-regard to write of your only sibling, Thurman, who died at age 52 after years of substance abuse, and end it on this note: 'I loved my brother dearly and still grieve over his untimely death. And I know that he is looking down proudly on my incredible journey.'").
Cain's decision to review whether to campaign in early states or to hit general election swing states too, as he told the Collegian, comes as Politico's Jonathan Martin nominates Cain's campaign for the "most hapless and bumbling" in modern history. Take just one example: New Hampshire consultant Mike Dennehy told Martin that Cain's decision to give a disastrous interview to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and snub the New Hampshire Union-Leader was "a colossal mistake that makes one think that they are smoking something illegal as they make decisions." But Martin notes the decision likely had nothing to do with narcotics and everything to do with football. Cain told the Journal-Sentinel, “My chief of staff and my assistant, they wanted to go to a football game, and I said yes!” In fairness, Cain did shake hands with his fellow Green Bay Packers tailgaters. This is the first time Cain has shown any signs that he might rethink his campaign strategy. As he struggled to deal with allegations that sexually harassed some women in the 1990s, Cain issued a defiant statement on November 7 saying he wouldn't play by "the media's rules." Cain explained, "Another reason I refuse to play by these rules is that, by doing it my way, I’m getting much better results. My fundraising has skyrocketed since all this nonsense began. Just this weekend, the Washington Post has come out with a new poll – taken since all this started – showing me in the lead nationally, with my numbers on the rise."
Cain emailed supporters asking for donations in this difficult time Tuesday night, explaining that he "helped [Ginger White] financially at times over the past few years" just as he has other, totally platonic, friends. And now he's the victim, he says, as "Ms. White has made it apparent that she was abusing the friendship." But one of the things that made White believable was the way her description of his personality rang so true: "Very arrogant in a playful sometimes way. Very, ah -- Herman Cain loves Herman Cain."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.