Will Herman Cain become the GOP's 'kingmaker'?

Cain's campaign is over, but his supporters could still potentially tip the balance in a close GOP race

Herman Cain
(Image credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Herman Cain ended his presidential run on Saturday, citing the damage inflicted on him by "false and untrue" allegations of sexual harassment and infidelity. By Sunday, most of Cain's former rivals were scrambling for his supporters — or, in Rep. Michele Bachmann's case, already claiming many of them as her own. Cain, who says he'll continue to push his 9-9-9 tax plan, intends to endorse one of the GOP candidates soon — reportedly, Cain might throw his support behind Newt Gingrich as early as Monday afternoon. Will a nod from the scandal-tainted Cain really influence the GOP race?

Yes. Cain wields a lot of power: It's clear from his defiant exit speech that Cain "wants to stay in the spotlight," says Dan Farber at CBS News. And this Plan B, pushing his supporters toward a preferred candidate, is a pretty good way to "make lemonade out of lemons." After all, "if he can't continue his run for president, at least he can play the role of a kingmaker."

"Herman Cain tries to make lemonade from lemons"

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

But who would want Cain's blessing? The king Cain is trying to anoint is apparently Gingrich, says Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post. But if the tainted Cain endorses the "clownish" Newt, it will probably "only raise eyebrows and cackles about [Newt's] own infidelity." Some interested party, perhaps a political action group, "will want to tie Cain and Gingrich at the hip."

"Is there a not-Romney and not-Gingrich for Iowans?"

Cain's supporters matter, even if his support doesn't: The one-time frontrunner doesn't have "a huge base of support any more, but it's still significant," says Jazz Shaw at Hot Air. Cain diehards might not follow Herman's advice — I think they're more likely to back a "consummate Washington outsider" than Newt — but regardless, it's critical "where Cain's hardcore fans migrate." His "sizable 8 percent" in Iowa, for instance, could seal a win for Rep. Ron Paul, or boost Rick Perry back into the running.

"Where to now for Cain's supporters?"

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.