Embattled US Republican Cain ends presidential bid

After sexual misconduct accusations chase businessman from race, Romney, Gingrich showdown takes form.

December 3, 2011 21:50
1 minute read.
Herman Cain ends presdiential bid  as wife watches

Herman Cain quits 311. (photo credit: Reuters)

ATLANTA - US Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain effectively ended his 2012 White House race on Saturday, saying "false and unproved" sexual accusations have made it impossible for him to carry on a credible campaign.

Cain's conservative supporters will have to find a new home with voting to start next month in the race to determine the Republican's presidential nominee for 2012.

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Cain's departure shapes the Republican race more clearly as a matchup between former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and surging rival Newt Gingrich.

Former Godfather's Pizza chief executive Cain said in his home town of Atlanta that he was suspending his White House bid after a Friday night meeting with his wife, Gloria, who appeared at his side and smiled throughout.

Cain said a "cloud of doubt" had settled over his campaign. He insisted that accusations that he sexually harassed several women and had a 13-year affair with an Atlanta businesswoman were simply not true.

"I am suspending my campaign because of the continued distraction, the continued hurt," said the 65-year-old. He said he would endorse a Republican rival.

All evidence pointed to a campaign facing severe financial woes and credibility problems even if Cain had decided to stay in.

After jumping into the front-runner position two months ago, Cain has been in a free fall in the past month and his support in Iowa, which holds the first US nominating contest on Jan. 3, stands at 8 percent.

Cain spoke of having made mistakes but did not elaborate. His campaign has also suffered from several stumbles that included a long pause when he tried to answer a routine question about Libya.

"I've made mistakes professionally, personally, as a candidate, in terms of how I run my campaign. And I take responsibility for the mistakes that I've made. And I've been the very first to own up to any mistakes I've made," Cain said.

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