Who benefits if Herman Cain drops out?

The GOP hopeful, plagued by sex scandals, suggests to staffers that he might end his presidential campaign. Great news for Newt?

If Herman Cain's alleged 13-year affair ends his presidential campaign, Mitt Romney, who boasts a 42-year marriage, could benefit, some suggest.
(Image credit: Brooks Kraft/Corbis)

Soon, the political world might not have Herman Cain to kick around anymore. Less than 24 hours after the scandal-stained Cain pledged to "stay focused on his campaign," despite potentially damaging allegations that he had engaged in a 13-year extramarital affair, the GOP hopeful is reassessing whether to soldier on. In a conference call Tuesday with his presidential campaign staff (National Review was on the call, and has a transcript on its website), Cain said that the latest allegation "is cause for reassessment… we have to do an assessment as to whether or not this is going to create too much of a cloud in some peoples' minds as to whether or not they should support us going forward." Cain will make an official decision by the end of the week. The affair allegation, of course, is just the latest in a laundry list of accusations of sexual misconduct against Cain, all of which he denies. If Cain drops out, who benefits?

Cain's departure would help Gingrich: Newt has profited the most from Cain's recent decline, and would surely benefit from Cain's exit, says Jim Rutenberg at The New York Times. Cain was the "bright guy" in a race full of gaffe-prone conservatives, and Gingrich can fill that smartest-guy-in-the-room role, too. Newt's campaign has been pushing against the notion that he's merely the latest GOP "flavor-of-the-month," and was wisely "solicitous of Mr. Cain's potentially wayward voters" after news of Cain's affair broke on Monday. If the "Cain Train" derails, many passengers are likely to hop aboard the Gingrich Express.

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