November 30, 2011 - I've been an avid supporter of Herman Cain for many months now. I like the man, I like his 9-9-9 tax plan as a starting point for reforming the federal tax code, and I love his background as a successful businessman. I have defended him against the slander and libel of those who accuse him of unproven sexual misconduct.
However, I can no longer support Herman Cain because he has shown that he is willing to waste my time and the time of his many remaining campaign workers. It comes down to this: Crap or get off the pot. Are you in? Or are you out? Stop sending mixed signals to us.
Earlier this week, Cain told campaign staff that he was "reassessing" his run for the presidency in the wake of multiple accusations of sexual harassment and even of having a long-time affair.
An Associated Press report yesterday said that "Herman Cain’s Iowa campaign chairman [says] that the candidate is reassessing his presidential campaign a day after an Atlanta businesswoman alleged a 13-year extramarital affair with the Republican."
This caused immediate concern, of course, among Cain's supporters. His campaign gurus tried to calm us later by "explaining" that Cain's use of the word reassessing had been misunderstood. Jim Galloway highlighted this in a post yesterday in the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC).
Galloway wrote this:
"On the other hand, Daniel Malloy, the AJC’s man in Washington, just got off the phone with Cain spokesman J.D. Gordon, who sent this note." We then get the note, from which we read this (my emphasis added):
Gordon acknowledged that Cain in a staff call this morning used the word “reassess” about the campaign, but said it was not about whether or not he was going to drop out. Similar reassessments took place after the Iowa straw poll and at one point when the campaign was low on money, he said.
“My interpretation of that is that we are looking to assess where we are at today and where we need to be moving into the primary,” Gordon said. The campaign will rethink what states Cain visits, the types of speeches he gives and what interviews he conducts.
Today in Ohio, however, Cain blew Gordon's explanation out of the water. Speaking in West Chester, Cain was asked immediately after his speech if he was staying in or dropping out of the race. "Are you going to drop out, Mr. Cain?" came the question from off-camera. Cain's answer: "We are reassessing." (See 1:05 in the video here.)
The question was lobbed at Cain a few more times. About the fourth time he was asked, he said, "We are reassessing as we speak." Asked to be more specific, Cain responded, "Yes. Reassessment means reevaluation."
As Cain shook hands from admirers, he was then asked "What are supporters telling you right now?" His smiling response was, "Supporters are, it, it's been a groundswell of positive support," he said, "got, got it real quick? Groundswell, groundswell."
This is unsettling to me and to many Cain supporters I've had contact with today, since the Ohio speech. I don't know about any "groundswell" of support over the past 24 hours for Cain, and I'm fairly well in touch. Was he exaggerating, or has his campaign advisors misinformed him?
Was J.D. Gordon lying about reassessment? Or was he simply misinformed? Or, perhaps, did he himself misunderstand whatever explanation was given to him to share publicly? Hard to know.
Surely, though, Herman Cain was aware of the confusion, and the apparently confused explanation, of his use of the work "reassess." Surely his people advised him about this, which leads me to question his use of that word again today. What Herman Cain is doing, in effect, is dodging the question of whether he will stay in the Republican presidential primary race.
That, in my opinion, is disrespectful of the thousands of us who have spent time, and many have spent money, to support the Cain Campaign. We've stood by as his -character was being assassinated. We explained 9-9-9 to those who are arithmetic challenged. We are owed an answer to the question, and we are owed more than the non-definitive "we are reassessing."
There are deeper, longer term concerns here, as well. Herman Cain likes to say in his campaign speeches that a president should surround himself with good people. That's true, of course, but one wonders how good the people are who currently surround him. If Herman Cain cannot respond with specificity and certainty about staying in the race, then how would he respond to a question from an allied nation's leader about an urgent matter affecting our national security? If he would allow the attempts at character assassination to take him out of the race, how would President Cain respond to the daily and even more vicious attempts to attack his character? After all, that's just part of the president's job burden. Would he resign or brush it off and stay strong?
So, to Herman Cain I say this: Crap or get off the pot. Man up and make a decision. Then give your supporters their props by letting them know what you've decided.