HERMAN CAIN HAS suspended his campaign for the US presidency following allegations of sexual harassment and a 13-year affair with another woman.
His decision came at a delayed announcement at a rally in Atlanta, Georgia this afternoon.He described the continued distraction and hurt caused to his family by the continued allegations about his private life as the reason for his decision.
“I am suspending my presidential campaign because of the continued distractions and the continued hurt caused on me and my family,” he told supporters at the rally.
Cain launched a website and said he would still advocate his famed 9-9-9 tax plan.
He also said he will be endorsing another of the candidates in the Republican field but confirmed it would not be the current White House incumbent Barack Obama.
It follows allegations of sexual harassment of former employees of the National Restaurant Association where Cain was CEO in the 1990s and most recently a claim from a woman in Georgia that Cain had conducted a 13 year affair with her.
Cain denied the relationship had been intimate and said he was just friends with Ginger White, 46, whose allegations were flatly denied by Cain even before she came public in a pre-emptive move which did little to dampen the controversy.
Cain has never held elected office but rose to become an unexpected front-runner in the volatile Republican race just weeks ago.
A self-styled outsider, Cain enjoyed strong tea party support from conservatives who viewed him as an alternative to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, a long time favourite to scoop the nomination.
But once in the national spotlight, Cain fumbled policy questions, leaving some to wonder whether he was ready for the presidency.
Then it was revealed at the end of October that the National Restaurant Association had paid settlements to two women who claimed Cain sexually harassed them while he was president of the organization.
A third woman told The Associated Press that Cain made inappropriate sexual advances but that she didn’t file a complaint. A fourth woman also stepped forward to accuse Cain of groping her in a car in 1997.
Cain has denied wrongdoing in all cases.
Polls suggest his popularity has suffered. A Des Moines Register poll released on Friday showed Cain’s support plunging, with backing from 8 per cent of Republican caucus-goers in Iowa, compared with 23 percent a month ago.
Fundraising has also fallen off. He issued an email appeal to supporters on Friday asking for donations, in an attempt to gauge whether his financial support has dried up.
- additional reporting from AP