Herman Cain's chief of staff said Tuesday night that there was no way Cain would end his presidential campaign in response to the allegation that he had a 13-year extramarital affair.
Speculation about Cain's future in the race had abounded since Tuesday morning, when he reportedly told his senior staff on a conference call that he was reassessing his prospects and would make a decision over the next several days. But his chief of staff, Mark Block, told ABC News that Cain is re-evaluating his campaign strategy, not the campaign itself.
It is a strategic reassessment, Block said, not a reassessment of withdrawing. He added that Cain plans to lay out his way forward at a campaign stop in Dayton, Ohio, on Wednesday.
According to Block, there are only two things that would make Cain drop out of the race: if his wife of 43 years asked him to, or if we show up to do events and no one is there.
But according to The Des Moines Register, which Cain's campaign invited to listen in on the Tuesday morning conference call, Cain specifically mentioned the possibility of dropping out.
We have to do an assessment as to whether or not this is going to create too much of a cloud in some people's minds as to whether or not they should support us going forward, he said. If a decision is made different than [we] should plow ahead, you all will be the first to know.
He added, I just wanted to let everybody know directly from me, we have not lost our enthusiasm at this point. We are going to reassess things over the next several days, and we will contact you over the next several days and let you know -- positive, negative, whatever the case may be.
Cain acknowledged that the firestorm of the past month -- not just Ginger White's claims of a 13-year affair, but also the allegations that he sexually harassed several women while he was CEO of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s -- had taken an emotional toll on his family, Steve Grubbs, his Iowa campaign manager, told USA Today.
The reactions of Cain's Republican opponents to the new allegations have ranged from sympathy (Newt Gingrich, who knows something about political fallout from extramarital affairs) to pessimism about his prospects in the race (Michele Bachmann) to outright calls for him to drop out (Jon Huntsman, who called the Cain saga a distraction from more important issues).
Gingrich, who stands to gain the most from Cain's fall, refused to say that Cain should drop out of the race.
Remember, I was supposed to be dead in June and July, he told CBS News on Tuesday, referring to the period when nearly his entire campaign staff resigned. I am not going to go around declaring anybody else dead. I think any candidate has the right to try to recover. They have the right to try to get back in the game.