The Cain-Gingrich Alliance


Fox 5 in Atlanta, the station that broke the Ginger White story, reports that recently “suspended” presidential candidate Herman Cain will endorse Newt Gingrich today:

Herman Cain might be out of the running as a Republican presidential candidate, but his voice still carries weight with his many loyal supporters. Since he bowed out of the race Saturday, there has been much speculation on who he would endorse. 

Sources tell FOX 5 News that Herman Cain plans to endorse fellow Georgian Newt Gingrich on Monday. They say details of a formal announcement are still being worked out.

A spokesperson with the Gingrich campaign said there is a 2 p.m. press conference in New York, which would follow a meeting with Donald Trump.

I don’t think there was much doubt in peoples’ minds that the Cain campaign “suspension” would be permanent, but endorsing another candidate should make it official… which makes you wonder why Cain didn’t just make it official when he wrapped the towel around his shoulders Saturday, but refused to throw it in. 

Gingrich’s people are downplaying the Fox 5 report, and say they expect no formal Cain endorsement today.

A Cain-Gingrich alliance has been building through the last few debates, particularly the extremely cordial one-on-one debate they held over economic policy.  They haven’t always been completely simpatico, despite both men hailing from Georgia and having a longtime acquaintance.  The Washington Post notes that Cain was once rather dismissive of the former Speaker’s presidential chances, in an interview published on May 30, 2011:

Cain’s own office, adjacent to his former radio studio, was decorated with political tomes and crystal entrepreneur awards. On a chair by his desk, a “prayer bear” sat as a testament to his beating stage four cancer in 2006. Cain looked out a picture window at a golfer teeing off on the first hole below. “This is what I was supposed to be doing,” he said with a burst of laughter. He’s chuckling a lot these days. And talking a lot, too.

Romney and Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, he said, “tend to be much more risk-averse.” His fellow Georgian, Newt Gingrich, is brilliant, but perhaps his “time has come and gone.” He said he could understand why Fox television personalities Huckabee and Sarah Palin “would be reluctant to get back into that pressure cooker and back into that fire when they are now discovering a whole new career.”

Cain, who refers to himself in the third person and goes as THEHermancain on Twitter, acknowledged that there was no downside to his own campaign. “A lot more people know who Herman Cain is,” he said, regardless of the outcome. “I don’t have this long-term ambition of I want my own show on Fox,” he said. “I want to be president.”

Now that Cain’s time has “come and gone,” it wouldn’t be surprising to see him throw his support behind Gingrich.  For his part, Gingrich has offered some pretty tough criticism of Cain’s signature 999 Plan, but he’s also consistently praised Cain for the boldness of his vision.

For example, at the Las Vegas presidential debate, after Cain went through a rough round of questions about his tax reform plan, Gingrich was asked why he had declared the 999 Plan would be a “tougher sell” than Cain’s sunny sales pitch would have us believe, and he brought down the house by replying, “Well, you just watched it.”  However, he went on to compliment Cain for having “the courage to go out and take a specific, very big idea, at the right level… and he has us at least talking about something that matters, as opposed to the junk that is all too often masquerading as politics in this country.”

Gingrich echoed these sentiments in his statement on the end of the Cain campaign:

Herman Cain’s 999 plan got our country talking about the critical issue of how to reform our tax code and he elevated the dialogue of the Republican presidential primary in the process.  I am proud to know Herman Cain and consider him a friend.  I know from having worked with him for more than a decade he will continue to be a powerful voice in the conservative movement for years to come.

There was a time when Herman Cain was almost everyone’s choice for an ideal vice-presidential candidate.  Rick Perry went as far as saying he’d like to fuse Cain and Gingrich together into a genetically engineered super-Veep.  It’s a measure of how forcefully Cain crashed that he’s probably not on anyone’s vice-presidential short list any more.

It would, however, be unfortunate if the personal and political blunders of Cain and his painfully inept campaign were to completely obscure what he did right.  His optimism, can-do spirit, and courageous willingness to tackle the biggest of issues were major factors in his rise to the top of the GOP primaries.  For what it’s worth, I’ve seen nothing in the twilight days of his campaign to suggest that Herman Cain did not sincerely believe in the ideas he put forward, and I think he’ll take his endorsement opportunity very seriously.  It wouldn’t be surprising if he handed his banner to the rival who seemed to understand those ideas best.  Also, Newt Gingrich is the kind of analyst who can pick through the smoldering wreckage of a once high-flying campaign and salvage the good stuff.