Suspending Cain

December 07, 2011

Over the weekend, Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain ended his long-shot White House bid (the photo is one I took of him in Iowa in August). Hounded by several allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior, Cain's poor presidential prospects became even worse--especially since he handled the charges poorly (see post here). With Cain's departure, it becomes easier for other candidates to attract attention. His departure also raises a couple of interesting issues. For instance, during his speech on Saturday, Cain did not say he was "dropping out" or "ending" his presidential run, but that he was "suspending" his campaign. This is not merely a matter of personal word preference, but a deliberate semantic decision with critical legal and financial implications. As the Washington Post explained, by "suspending" his campaign, Cain can continue to raise and spend money. If, however, he completely "ended" his campaign, Cain could not keep raising money except to retire his campaign's debt. Clearly, word choices are important.

Another interesting part of Cain's speech on Saturday was that he invoked God to justify his decision. He stated:

So one of the first declarations that I want to make to you today is that I am at peace with my God. ... So as of today, with a lot of prayer and soul searching, I am suspending my presidential campaign.
This use of God to explain his decision to leave the presidential race brought his use of confessional politics full circle. He had previously compared himself to Moses and claimed God told him to run for president (which now raises interesting questions about why would God want Cain to be publicly exposed and humiliated). Additionally, Cain said the recent attacks arising from accusations from several women were all part of God's plan and journey. With the mindset of confessional politics, it seems consistent for him to credit God with the decision to stop running and not just with the decision to run. Mike Huckabee, who used confessional politics to jump to the top tier of Republican presidential candidates in 2008, similarly invoked God to explain why he decided not to run this time (see post here). Despite falling apart in the presidential campaign, Cain will likely attempt to follow Huckabee in building a media career. In the meantime, his departure means the Republican race should have fewer confessional political attacks on Muslims.