Cain drops out

Herman Cain has dropped out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination:

In a long awaited announcement Herman Cain stood with his wife Gloria before a crowd of supporters at his campaign office in north DeKalb County, Georgia to say that he will suspend his campaign due to the continued hurt suffered by his family from “false allegations.”

“So as of today, with a lot of prayer and soul searching, I am suspending my presidential campaign,” he said.

Following revelations that he allegedly sexually harassed several women while head of the National Restaurant Association, and most recently, businesswoman Ginger White’s charge that she had an affair with the candidate for 13 years, Cain’s poll numbers have dramatically declined.

via Herman Cain | Suspends | Campaign | The Daily Caller.

Cain fans, who will you support now?

An alternative presidential option?

What do you think of this possibility–not a third party, but a coalition ticket elected by the public via the internet?

The restless political middle — emboldened by the recent inability of a special congressional committee to agree on a debt-reduction deal — is staking out a controversial plan to insert itself into the 2012 election.

A bipartisan group of political strategists and donors known as Americans Elect has raised $22 million and is likely to place a third presidential candidate on the ballot in every state next year. The goal is to provide an alternative to President Obama and the GOP nominee and break the tradition of a Democrat-vs.-Republican lineup.

The effort could represent a promising new chapter for political moderates, who see a wide-open middle in the political landscape as congressional gridlock and bitter partisan fights have driven down favorability ratings for both parties.

“Voters are saddened by the inability of people in Washington to deal with the issues that are important to them,” said the group’s chief executive, Kahlil Byrd, a Republican strategist who once worked for Massachusetts Gov. Deval L. Patrick (D).

Americans Elect has ballot slots in Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio and five other states, with certification pending in several others.

The group is relying on an ambitious plan to hold a political convention on the Internet that would treat registered voters like fans of “American Idol,” giving everyone a shot at picking a favorite candidate.

“We want to gather millions of people and allow them to run authentically through the process,” Byrd said, calling it a “wide-scale draft movement for presidential candidates.”

Unlike the Green Party, Americans Elect is not creating a separate party, but trying to change the political process in two ways. First, the group seeks to create a mixed-party ticket, requiring its presidential candidate to pick a running mate from a different party.

Second, Americans Elect — which was formed and is backed by Peter Ackerman, a wealthy private investor and philanthropist, along with Byrd — wants to take the nominating process out of the hands of a few primary voters and make it more open through the use of technology. Registered voters who sign up on the group’s Web site would directly nominate and select candidates online in the spring. A final nominee would be selected in June.

via Moderate Americans Elect group hoping to add third candidate to 2012 election ballot – The Washington Post.

Would you participate in an online convention?  Would you vote for its candidate?

With an unpopular incumbent and very likely an unpopular Republican challenger, as well as broad disillusionment with conventional politics, might this actually work?

Cain’s non-denial denial

Here is Herman Cain’s initial statement about an Atlanta woman’s contention that she has had an ongoing affair with him:

“Mr. Cain has been informed today that your television station plans to broadcast a story this evening in which a female will make an accusation that she engaged in a 13-year long physical relationship with Mr. Cain. This is not an accusation of harassment in the workplace – this is not an accusation of an assault – which are subject matters of legitimate inquiry to a political candidate.

Rather, this appears to be an accusation of private, alleged consensual conduct between adults – a subject matter which is not a proper subject of inquiry by the media or the public. No individual, whether a private citizen, a candidate for public office or a public official, should be questioned about his or her private sexual life. The public’s right to know and the media’s right to report has boundaries and most certainly those boundaries end outside of one’s bedroom door.

Mr. Cain has alerted his wife to this new accusation and discussed it with her. He has no obligation to discuss these types of accusations publicly with the media and he will not do so even if his principled position is viewed unfavorably by members of the media.”

via The PJ Tatler » Atlanta Woman Alleges 13-Year Affair with Herman Cain (Update: Cain Issues Second Statement).

What is missing in this statement?  (Hint:  Does he say it isn’t true?)

In subsequent statements, Cain has come closer to a denial, referring to “events that never happened” and “I did nothing wrong.”  But I’m not sure those are out-and-out denials either.

One might argue that consensual relationships should be private and have nothing to do with a person’s fitness to hold public office.  But Cain is a married man.

Some of you Cainites  (Cainanites?) rejected the earlier accusations of sexual harassment against him.  Is this any different?  Are you still supporting him?

The latest GOP debate

You report.  I didn’t watch it.  It does seem like something comes out of each debate, often including another front runner.  So what happened?

Did Gingrich divorce his wife on her deathbed?

One of the most troublesome charges against Newt Gingrich is that he served the divorce papers to his first wife in her hospital room where she was dying of cancer.   The increased scrutiny due to his front-runner status in the Republican presidential  race has at least uncovered the evidence that the story is not true.  From the Washington Post:

Although the thrust of the story about his first divorce is not in dispute — Gingrich’s first wife, Jackie Battley, has said previously that the couple discussed their divorce while she was in the hospital in 1980 — other aspects of it appear to have been distorted through constant retelling.

Most significant, Battley wasn’t dying at the time of the hospital visit; she is alive today. Nor was the divorce discussion in the hospital “a surprise” to Battley, as many accounts have contended. Battley, not Gingrich, had requested a divorce months earlier, according to Jackie Gingrich Cushman, the couple’s second daughter.

Further, Gingrich did not serve his wife with divorce papers on the day of his visit (unlike a subpoena, divorce papers aren’t typically “served”). Gingrich’s marriage to Battley had been troubled for many years before it dissolved 31 years ago, both parties have said.

via Aspects of Gingrich divorce story distorted – The Washington Post.

Still, he has been married three times.  His second divorce came in 1999 and involved an extra-marital relationship with a congressional staffer who is now his third wife.

Do you think these transgressions should disqualify him from the presidency?

Newt as front-runner, so attacks begin

Newt Gingrich, according to some polls, has pulled ahead of Mitt Romney in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.  So, following form, the news stories are digging up unfavorable material about him.

But there is a difference this time:  The stories are about how he has violated conservative orthodoxy:  His think tank to propose free market solutions to health care issues once suggested–or maybe even came up with the idea–of mandatory insurance coverage, a hallmark of Obamacare.  He once proposed a cap and trade policy to control pollution.  He believes or once believed in global warming.

But these attacks may have a different effect:  They may make him more electable.  They show him not to be the conservative attack dog that he has been stereotyped as being.  Rather, he comes across as a pragmatic problem solver who is not as ideological as people might fear.

The problem is that Republican primary voters are dominated by us conservative purists.  Whereas the voting public is scared to death of conservative purists.  So we have the dilemma of anyone the Republicans may be willing to nominate cannot win, and anyone who could win cannot get the Republican nomination.

The fact is, Newt Gingrich is an idea machine.  He just churns them out.  (Notice, for example, in the link below, his idea about how school janitors.)  And think tanks, which he has been running, are idea factories.  Not all of the ideas work or survive long after further reflection.  (Who knows if his janitor idea would work?)  But Newt is certainly a creative guy with a massive intellect.  And certainly our problems today call for those skill sets.

And though one might fault him for having once proposed ideas that conservatives now oppose, no one would surely classify Newt as a liberal or even a moderate.  If Newt and Mitt Romney both fall short of conservative purity, surely Newt would be more acceptable, wouldn’t he?

Then again, there is the character issue.  Newt has been married three times, has been unmasked as an adulterer, has a reputation for arrogance and for not being disciplined.  He has expressed remorse for his misdeeds and has recently converted to Catholicism.  Mitt Romney, on the other hand, is a Mormon, and in accord with that non-Christian religion, he lives a very moral life.   His character, by all accounts, has been stellar, with a strong marriage and a strong family, and no external vices that anyone can see.  The man doesn’t even drink coffee.

What do you think?  Newt or Mitt?

Gingrich defends himself, says he can handle scrutiny – The Washington Post.