Herman Cain, who said on Tuesday that he was reassessing whether to stay in the presidential race before saying on Wednesday that there was no chance he would drop out, is now changing course again and saying he may decide to drop out after all -- but not until he talks to his wife.
Since I've been campaigning all week, I haven't had an opportunity to sit down with her and walk through this with my wife and my family, he said outside his New Hampshire campaign headquarters in Manchester on Thursday. I will do that when I get back home on Friday. I am not going to make a decision until after we talk face to face.
That's a turnaround from Wednesday, when he said in a defiant speech in Dayton, Ohio, that he had already made a decision: They want you to believe that we can't do this. They want you to believe that with enough character assassination on me, I will drop out. Well, the American people have a different idea.
He acknowledged that his campaign has taken a hit, but said it was already recovering.
The day that this latest one hit, fundraising went way down, he said on Thursday. As the week has gone on and this woman who has made these accusations has basically started to contradict herself, our fundraising has started to go back up. It's not up to the level where it was, but a lot of people are saying, you know what, they don't believe it.
It was unclear what contradictions he was referring to, but what is clear are his poll numbers: down double-digits from last month. At this point, political experts say it would be nearly impossible for him to recover, and many believe he will end his campaign sooner rather than later, despite his currently mixed messages.
His announcement and mixed statements are meant to prepare his supporters and fundraisers for his exit, Jamie Chandler, a political science professor at Hunter College in New York City, told the International Business Times. It could also be indicative of a poor communications strategy, which is contributing to the contradictory statements coming from his staff. In either case, the announcement has created too much uncertainty over his commitment to running and adds some credibility to the sexual harassment and adultery accusations, both of which ring the death knell for his bid to get the nomination.
Earlier on Wednesday, Cain's chief of staff, Mark Block, told reporters that reassessing meant Cain was re-evaluating his campaign strategy, not his campaign itself, and that there was no way he would drop out of the race -- unless, that is, Mrs. Cain asked him to.
It seems like Cain is trying to leave himself an opening to withdraw while saving face, bowing to the reality that the allegations of sexual harassment and adultery have eroded his support beyond the point of salvageability but not acknowledging that it was the allegations that defeated him.
He will blame his exit on the Democrats and liberal media smear campaign, but he will also say it's in the best interest of the party, Chandler predicted. That is, he is likely to say that the negative press is distracting voters from the more important goal of getting a Republican elected to the presidency in 2012.
At this point, Cain is issuing classic denials that leave some room for maneuvering. For example, on Wednesday night, he told supporters, There were some people who thought that I was finished, but I'm going to leave it with Yogi Berra's comment: 'It ain't over till it's over.' And it ain't over yet.
Not yet, but it may be soon.