Following allegations of sexual harassment and infidelity, former pizza magnate and banker Herman Cain has revealed Saturday that he would suspend his campaign to become the U.S. Republican presidential nominee.
Cain was greeted with loud cheers and music as he stepped out of his campaign bus in Atlanta holding his wife’s hand.
Two and half hours after the event started, Cain arrived at what were supposed to be his new campaign headquarters.
The crowd’s mood became subdued ten minutes into his speech, as he announced he would no longer be a candidate.
“As of today with a lot of prayer and soul searching, I am suspending my presidential campaign. I am suspending my presidential campaign because of the continued distraction, the continued hurt caused on me and my family,” said the once popular Republican contender.
He said he understood the disappointment of his supporters, but that he had what he called a “Plan B”. Cain said he would fight for change in Washington politics not as a presidential candidate, but with a new website called Cain Solutions. “We are going to have to work a little harder but we will change it from the outside.”
Cain called allegations against him false and unproven. He said he was not a perfect man, but that he was at peace with in his words, his God and with his wife.
Cain’s rise to the top of Republican polls earlier this year was reversed recently when an Atlanta businesswoman alleged she had had a 13-year sexual affair with him which ended when he began his presidential run. He had already been defending his reputation against several claims of sexual harassment by women while he was a restaurant lobbyist.
Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich has begun to take the lead in national Republican polls, surpassing even former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, after Cain’s fall cleared the way.
An endorsement from him in the Republican race to compete against Democratic Party President Barack Obama in November 2012 would be coming soon, Cain said during his speech on Saturday.
During the short-lived campaign, Cain had become a favorite of the so-called Tea Party movement, which wants a much smaller government.
The Republican nomination battle is set to begin in the midwestern state of Iowa in about one month following this announcement.
Sex scandals have a long history during U.S. presidential campaign seasons.
In 1987, the initial frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, Gary Hart dropped out of the race when photos showed the married former senator on a luxury yacht with a young model on his lap.
Hart then briefly returned to the race, but after getting very low results in early primaries, he quit again.
Newt Gingrich has been presenting himself as a more conservative candidate than the other leading Republican candidate for president, Mitt Romney. However, Gingrich, former speaker of the House of Representatives, has only recently changed his once-liberal stance on medical marijuana and other issues.