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Cain quits, promises endorsement

After a whirlwind month dodging allegations of sexual harassment and an extramarital affair, Herman Cain, the pizza magnate who was at one point a front-runner for the Republican presidential domination, ended his presidential bid Saturday. 
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After a whirlwind month dodging allegations of sexual harassment and an extramarital affair, Herman Cain, the pizza magnate who was at one point a front-runner for the Republican presidential domination, ended his presidential bid Saturday. 

Cain spoke to a group of supporters outside of what was supposed to be his new Georgia campaign headquarters. He was joined by his wife, Gloria, who has made only sporadic appearances during the campaign.

Cain blamed the “media class” and the “political elite” for torpedoing his campaign, while continuing to deny the claims that lead to his downfall — that he sexually harassed at least four women while the head of the National Restaurant Association and engaged in a 13-year affair with another woman.

Cain said winning the White House was “Plan A.” His “Plan B” is to continue speaking out about the issues he built his campaign around, including his notable 9-9-9 tax plan. He introduced a new website that will be the backbone for this effort: thecainsolutions.com.

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“We had to come to the conclusion that it would be best to suspend this campaign,” he said. “That’s the bad news. The good news is, the pundits would like for me to shut up, drop out and go away,”

Cain said his wife has moved on from whatever is alleged to have transpired, but that it became too hurtful for he and his family to continue discussing the allegations while on the campaign trail.

“I am at peace with my God,” he said. “I am at peace with my wife. And she is at peace with me.”

For a brief time this fall, Cain was seen as the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney in the Republican presidential field. Cain took over that mantle from Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who entered the race to much fanfare but saw his support collapse after a string of poor debate performances that contrasted from Cain’s strong showings.

At one point, Cain was at 23 percent in Iowa, which holds the nation’s first presidential caucuses one month from today. The Des Moines Register said a poll it will release tonight has him at only 8 percent.

Michele Bachmann, who was the leading conservative before Perry entered the race, released a statement after Cain’s announcement:

“Herman Cain provided an important voice to this process. His ideas and energy generated tremendous enthusiasm for the conservative movement at a time it was so desperately needed to restore confidence in our country. I wish Herman, his wife Gloria, and his family all the best.

Cain promised to endorse a Republican candidate, and the odds-on favorite has to be Newt Gingrich, who polls have shown to have already benefited from Cain’s decline. The two are friendly to each other, and even held a one-on-one debate in November. When asked that night to pose a question to the other candidate, Cain jokingly asked what Gingrich’s priority as vice president – presumably to Cain — would be.

Devin Henry can be reached at dhenry@minnpost.com.