Saturday no doubt was unsettling and upsetting for Herman Cain. Dropping out of a presidential run under an ethical cloud can’t be fun.
But Cain’s “suspending” his campaign is likely to give him two very valuable things: More money and (at least temporary) political power.
The political power comes with his announcement that he’ll be endorsing one of the other Republican candidates “in the near future.”
It’s not just his enthusiastic followers that’ll be paying attention to the one he throws his arm around. There are those major campaign contributors, some of whom Cain huddled with just before making his big announcement Saturday. Presumably, their money will now go elsewhere among the GOP hopefuls.
The others in the race were tweet-quick to say nice things about Cain just minutes later.
“Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan got our country talking about the critical issue of tax reform, and he elevated the dialogue of the primary,” Newt Gingrich tweeted. “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.”
(Much of the smart money is on Gingrich getting Cain’s endorsement. They really are friends – both from Georgia – and it’s always good to get on the bandwagon of someone on the political ascent, which is Gingrich’s current status among political insiders and pundits.)
“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,” Jon Huntsman said in a press release. “I understand his decision and wish him and his family the best.”
Rep. Michele Bachmann tweeted: “Herman Cain provided an important voice. His ideas & energy generated tremendous enthusiasm for the conservative movement. I wish Herman, his wife Gloria, and his family all the best.”
Rick Perry flat out asked for Cain’s political blessing.
“I would urge any Cain fans looking for a true outsider with a solid conservative record and a clear vision for America to give Perry a look,” Will Franklin, the Texas governor’s media coordinator, tweeted.
As for the money, Cain’s campaign still has about $600,000 in the till, and having “suspended” (not officially ended) his campaign, he still can raise and spend money, even though suspension is just a euphemism for “I’m outta here.”
But that also means his other financial interests – past, present, and future – just became more potentially lucrative.
He can charge more as a “motivational speaker,” his book sales are likely to get a boost, and he may get his own gig on Fox News. Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and Gingrich all did. On the liberal side, disgraced former New York governor Elliot Spitzer landed on his feet in a new profession with his own show on CNN. And remember the Monica Lewinsky scandal? Bill Clinton has written several successful books, including most recently “Back to Work.”
"You take away this [presidential] run and this guy wasn't even on the radar," Rob Frankel, author of "Revenge of Brand X," told CBS’s Political Hotsheet. "Everyone in this country now knows who this guy is, which helps a lot for book sales."
Back to that Cain endorsement.
“On average across six polls we've asked a second choice question on this month 37 percent of Cain voters pick Gingrich to only 13 percent for Romney,” PPP reported this week. “If Herman Cain really ends up dropping out of the race Gingrich's surge should continue in the next few weeks, unless/until something starts happening to erode his popularity. Why? Because Cain's supporters absolutely love Gingrich. And they absolutely hate Mitt Romney.”
If Cain really is “one of you,” as he told several hundred supporter in Atlanta Saturday, then that bodes well for Newt Gingrich.