Former pizza magnate Herman Cain has decided Saturday to suspend his bid to become the U.S. Republican presidential nominee following allegations of sexual harassment and infidelity.
Cain was greeted with loud cheers and music as he stepped out of his campaign bus in Atlanta holding his wife’s hand.
Cain arrived at the event at what were supposed to be his new campaign headquarters two and half hours after it started.
Ten minutes into his speech, the crowd’s mood became subdued as he announced he would no longer be a candidate.
“As of today with a lot of prayer and soul searching, I am suspending my presidential campaign. I am suspending my presidential campaign because of the continued distraction, the continued hurt caused on me and my family,” said the once popular Republican contender.
He said he understood the disappointment of his supporters, but that he had what he called a “Plan B”. Cain said he would fight for change in Washington politics not as a presidential candidate, but with a new website called Cain Solutions.
“We are going to have to work a little harder but we will change it from the outside.”
Cain said he was not a perfect man, but said he was at peace with in his words, his God and with his wife. He called allegations against him false and unproven.
Cain’s rise to the top of Republican polls earlier this year was reversed recently as he fended off several claims of sexual harassment by women while he was a restaurant lobbyist, and then even more so when an Atlanta businesswoman alleged she had had a 13-year sexual affair with him which ended when he began his presidential run.
Cain’s fall has cleared the way for former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich to take the lead in national Republican polls, surpassing even former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.
During his speech Saturday, Cain said an endorsement from him in the Republican race to compete against Democratic Party President Barack Obama in November 2012 would be coming soon.
During the campaign, Cain had become a favorite of the so-called Tea Party movement, which wants a much smaller government.
The Atlanta speech was made a month before the Republican nomination battle begins in the midwestern state of Iowa.
Sex scandals have a long history during U.S. presidential campaign seasons.
In 1987, the initial frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, Gary Hart dropped out of the race when photos showed the married former senator on a luxury yacht with a young model on his lap.
Hart then briefly returned to the race, but after getting very low results in early primaries, he quit again.