Cain announces he's suspending his campaignPosted: Updated:
(AP) - The Cain train has come to a stop.
Republican candidate Herman Cain is suspending his bid for theRepublican presidential nomination to avoid continued news coverageof allegations of sexual misconduct that is hurtful to his family.
"I am suspending my presidential campaign because of thecontinued distractions and the continued hurt caused on me and myfamily," Cain told several hundred supporters gathered at what wasto have been the opening of his national campaign headquarters.
Cain's announcement came five days after an Atlanta-area womanclaimed she and Cain had an affair for more than a decade, a claimthat followed several allegations of sexual harassment against theGeorgia businessman.
"But because of these false and unproved accusations, it haspaid and had a tremendous painful price on my family," Cain said,with his wife, Gloria, standing behind him on the stage.
"Now here's why it hurts - because my wife, my family and I, weknow that those false and unproved allegations are not true. So oneof the first declarations that I want to make to you today is thatI am at peace with my God. I am at peace with my wife. And she isat peace with me."
Whether Cain would stay in the race or drop out was the subjectof speculation throughout the week. Even some top supporters whohad spoken with Cain were arriving Saturday unsure what he wouldsay.
Cain returned to his suburban Atlanta home Friday and met withhis wife, Gloria. It was the first time they have seen each otherface to face since 46-year-old Ginger White came forward on Monday,and said she and Herman Cain had carried on a 13-year relationship.
Cain has denied having an affair with White. He said the concernover the toll the allegations were having on his family as well asa candid assessment of whether his campaign could still attract theneeded support would inform his decision on whether to press ahead.
Campaign volunteers were keeping busy Friday night, tacking upsigns at his headquarters. A contingent of Secret Service agentsinspected the site in advance of Cain's arrival.
"We are moving ahead," said Cain's Georgia director DavidMcCleary, who said he had talked to the candidate earlier in theday and describe him as "upbeat."
Cain, the former Godfather's Pizza chief executive who has neverheld elected office, rose to become an unexpected front-runner inthe volatile Republican race just weeks ago. A self-styledoutsider, Cain enjoyed strong tea party support from conservativeswho viewed him as an alternative to former Massachusetts Gov. MittRomney.
But once in the national spotlight, Cain fumbled policyquestions, leaving some to wonder whether he was ready for thepresidency. Then it was revealed at the end of October that theNational Restaurant Association had paid settlements to two womenwho claimed Cain sexually harassed them while he was president ofthe organization.
A third woman told The Associated Press that Cain madeinappropriate sexual advances but that she didn't file a complaint.A fourth woman also stepped forward to accuse Cain of groping herin a car in 1997.
Cain has denied wrongdoing in all cases.
Polls suggest his popularity has suffered. A Des Moines Registerpoll released Friday showed Cain's support plunging, with backingfrom 8 percent of Republican caucus-goers in Iowa, compared with 23percent a month ago.
Fundraising has also fallen off. He issued an email appeal tosupporters on Friday asking for donations, in an attempt to gaugewhether his financial support has dried up.
"I need to know that you are behind me 100 percent," Cain toldbackers. "In today's political environment, the only way we cangauge true support is by the willingness of our supporters toinvest in this effort."
On Friday, Cain urged backers in South Carolina to look past theallegations.
"There's a lot of garbage on the Internet. There's a lot ofgarbage out there on the TV. There's a lot of garbage out thereabout me, don't you know? There's a lot of misinformation outthere. You have to stay informed and check out the facts foryourself," Cain said.
He added: "I'm on this journey for a reason. I don't lookback."