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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Herman Cain Makes Appearance at New Campaign Headquarters in Atlanta; Analysts Speculate on Current State Cain Campaign; Herman Cain Announces Suspension of 2012 Presidential Campaign

Aired December 3, 2011 - 13:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon. I'm Candy Crowley, live at the CNN Bureau in Washington.

We are awaiting word from Herman Cain. He said he needed to speak with his wife. You're now looking at a live picture of what was to be a day when Herman Cain opened his Atlanta headquarters. Three or four weeks ago this man was flying high at the polls. And then came a series of revelations, all of which he announced to be untrue at least at some level. It has taken its toll in the polls and fundraising.

Herman Cain has been home with his wife now for at least 24 hours discussing the situation. I am joined today by my colleagues, senior correspondent Joe Johns and also with our Shannon Travis who is down covering Atlanta -- what will be Atlanta headquarters for Herman Cain.

The problem is you and I have been talking to sources for the last couple of hours. And I've heard, well, he's leaning towards leaving. We're pretty sure he's going to leave. You get the same thing and you can't trust them.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: No, you can't. One source I talked to a little while ago said this is a man who holds his own counsel. He may have people around him telling him things. Those people may come away with some impression of what he's going to do or something he said. But that was what Herman Cain thought at that moment. They report whatever they think as a truth to us, and it turns around, it changes. It's changed before.

So it's really good to sort of wait, sit, and see what Herman Cain is going to do. Clearly the options are stay in the race, get out. There's also a possibility, of course, of what we've seen before --

CROWLEY: Doing neither.

JOHNS: Right, suspend, if you will, the campaign. That way he can continue to raise money or whatever. But there are people who are telling Herman Cain, both publicly and privately, no matter what he wants to do, the fact of the matter is he's not really a viable candidate. That's what they are telling him.

CROWLEY: Exactly. You know, I think the thing here is there's two separate questions. The first is, is he a viable candidate still. The second is, is he going to continue with his campaign. Not necessarily the same answers. JOHNS: Absolutely. We do know there have been some other occasions, Herman Cain has even made reference to this, where he said he was going to reassess. This is the latest example of him reassessing his campaign and what that means for him.

He has suggested that it didn't mean he might get out of the race. He said he was reassessing to try to get some feel as to whether, oh, maybe I should change the way I do my campaign. Maybe stop focusing on everything else but the primary states.

But who knows? He's in a position where after talking to his family, after talking to his wife, he could come in and say, OK, this has gotten too close for comfort and I'm calling it quits.

CROWLEY: I want to play you and our viewers something that caught my ear. Last month Herman Cain was talking to an interviewer. This was before the revelation of a woman who said I've been having this 13- year affair with Herman Cain. He denies it. This was before that, but during the whole brouhaha about sexual harassment allegations which he also denied. And this is what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HERMAN CAIN, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I ever reach the point where this campaign became damaging to my family, my wife and my family, I'm not a quitter, but there is a point beyond which we will not go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: I thought at the time when he said this, this being said sounds like a man greasing the skids for an exit. And that was prior to the 13-year affair allegation.

Let's bring in our colleague Shannon Travis at Cain's Georgia headquarters in Atlanta. Shannon, you have been on the ground with Herman Cain for many, many weeks, followed his campaign out there with the foot soldiers. I'm wondering if you are picking up anything at all you would consider credible in terms of understanding what Herman Cain might be thinking about doing at this point?

TRAVIS: That's actually an incredibly good question, Candy, because we are. A few phone calls we've been making all afternoon reading the tea leaves to see what's happening. Let me explain a few things born out of those conversations. Number one, I had a conversation with Alice Stewart. She is Michele Bachmann's campaign spokeswoman. Earlier I reported she told me Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann spoke on the phone. They did not themselves speak. Alice Stewart clarified the campaign spoke. No less significant those campaigns are now speaking.

Alice Stewart also explained to me a lot of Herman Cain's supporters have now reached out to the Bachmann campaign and said they are now throwing their support behind her. Now, again, we don't have any confirmation of whether or not Herman Cain will drop out of this race, but that's a significant development, as you know, Candy, because both of them share a large base among Tea Parties and social Christian and evangelical supporters.

One other thing, Candy, we're expecting Herman Cain to take the stage at any moment.

CROWLEY: One of the things, Joe Johns with me, we hear all this celebratory music. It was supposed to be opening of campaign headquarters. I heard in case anyone assumes these people know anything, I've heard lots of celebratory music before a candidate bows out. So that's hopeful music as opposed to music that tells you anything.

JOHNS: If you go out onto the campaign trail to any event and they are not playing music, the silence is almost deadly. So they have to have some sort of noise to fill up the air, if you will. And I wouldn't read too much into that either way, quite frankly.

CROWLEY: Also joining us today, Republican strategist Ron Bonjean is here with us. Ron, talk to me about the effect the Cain ups and downs have had on the Republican field in general, because I think it's been -- my guess is it's been damaging, because this is what people have been hearing about Republicans for the last week.

RON BONJEAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think initially it was really unhelpful for the other candidates. They were trying to get their messages out, and all we could hear about were these allegations. Then it kind of transformed into a side show for a couple of weeks where we heard a lot more about Newt Gingrich, talked about Mitt Romney.

Now you have the rollercoaster spiraling out of control again in the last few day. We've heard a lot about this allegation that was made. I believe Ginger White was her name. We've heard nothing but that. Then Herman Cain has an evening conversation with his wife yesterday.

So here we go again. A lot of focus on the Herman Cain campaign. It does take away from other Republicans attempts to get on the air and to punch through, but I have a feeling we're going to know either way whether or not this will continue or whether or not our candidate -- the Republican candidate will have a chance to really get their message out.

CROWLEY: We heard Shannon talk, Ron, a little earlier about the Bachmann campaign claiming they are hearing from campaign supporters that they now want to climb on board with Michele Bachmann. Is there a natural home, do you think, for Cain supporters? And by the way, I don't know if we're talking about former supporters or not, because he's down eight percent in Iowa. So we're not talking about a huge pool here. Nonetheless is there a natural place you think Cain supporters would go?

BONJEAN: It's really interesting, because a lot of the Bachmann porters went to Perry when they thought he was -- you know, when he was the person that would take the mantle, then it went to Herman Cain. And now we've seen this huge problem that he's had.

I think these supporters splinter up amongst Newt Gingrich. Some could go to Bachmann. It's really unclear who is talking to whom between the Bachmann and Cain camp. Did the Bachmann pick up the phone to Cain's people? So it's really unclear how all that works out. Sure, it is a national natural home for Cain supporters, but so is Newt Gingrich's camp. So it's really unclear how many supporters will go where. As you said he only has eight percent support. But every little bit counts in a primary.

CROWLEY: Ron Bonjean with us, so is Shannon Travis down in Atlanta where you're looking at that picture. We are waiting for Herman Cain to come out and tell us basically whatever it is he's going to tell us. I'm here with Joe Johns. We'll be back in a second.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Welcome back. We are just minutes away from an expected announcement from that site right there on your television screen, Herman Cain's headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia to be opened today.

That's not why we're there. We're there because we're expecting to hear from Herman Cain shortly. We're told he arrived on the scene where you see a crowd of his supporters waiting. What we are wondering is whether he's going to continue with his campaign. He had been rising in the polls and gained support. But then there were accusations of infidelity which could put an end or suspend his campaign. Again, these are live pictures. We are waiting to hear from the man himself. He has been meeting with donors this morning. That much we know.

We want to bring in Wolf Blitzer on the phone from Hollywood, Florida. Wolf, if Cain's campaign soldiers on, what is it soldiering on for? Do you think that there's any sense, and you talked with Herman Cain right after the allegations of adultery came out, why would he move forth? Does he actually expect he has a chance at winning this nomination?

WOLF BLITZER, HOST, CNN'S "THE SITUATION ROOM" (via telephone): His numbers, as you know, have really gone down, especially Iowa, the new "Des Moines Register" poll. In October he was well into the 20s, now single digits. There's a lot of doubt whether or not the campaign can, in fact, continue realistically.

A lot of people, as you well know, have always said from the beginning he was never really in it to get the Republican presidential nomination but had other objectives in mind, including selling books and promoting his own career, if you will, getting name recognition.

But he's done remarkably well until all these sexual harassment allegations, four separate women, and now this affair that came out last Monday. So who knows. People keep asking me, thinking I have inside information, is he going to stay or go. I have no idea. I've covered a lot of campaigns like you, Candy, and this one is really unpredictable what he's going to do.

CROWLEY: It is. I thought one of the unpredictable things about Herman Cain was his personality. I interviewed him before and after the sexual harassment charges came out. I've spoken with him since this woman's charges of a 13-year affair came out. He is remarkably upbeat and remarkably unflappable in public. How did you find him right after the news broke accusing him of a longtime affair?

BLITZER: You're absolutely right. He was very cool under enormous pressure. We previously scheduled an interview last Monday, a live interview 4:00 p.m. eastern hour. Just as we were doing the interview, we got word this Atlanta TV station was about to go on and report that this woman alleged a 13-year affair.

And he wanted to get out in front of the story. He told me about it. We discussed it. I asked him all the sensitive, awkward questions about sex and everything else. And he remained rather upbeat and confident not only on the air, but as he left I walked him out. He was upbeat flatly denying these allegations.

It was very strange, Candy, as you well remember, even as we were speaking his attorney in Atlanta was putting out a statement saying they would have no comment on the -- whether or not there was a consensual sexual affair when, in fact, the client Herman Cain flatly denied there was a sexual affair. It was a very strange thing to get something from him while at the same time hearing something different from the lawyer in that written statement to that Atlanta TV station.

CROWLEY: Yes, this has been a campaign with multiple signals all along. While you were talking, I don't know if you could see it, but the camera was panning headquarters. Right on that stage is something that is draped, the kind of thing you unveil as you're opening up something new. Looks like a placard or some kind of sign designed for, and ta-da, here we are, here we have this campaign headquarters, which would be a dissonant message from here is my campaign headquarters and now I'm going to leave the campaign.

Joe, this is again not the first time Cain has found himself in a difficult position but surprised everybody with his reaction to it.

JOHNS: It's certainly true. I think on the air I've actually likened it to a soap opera, if you will, this campaign, in that it's sort of risen and fallen and had all these different elements. There are other people -- you look on social media and people referred to it as sort of a reality TV show, if you will, because he did talk about nine-nine-nine, his economic plan to revamp the tax code. So much more of this campaign has been about the ups and downs of Herman Cain, his personal life, things that happened 10, 12 years ago that have taken the focus away from what his message was and even taken the focus away from the message that the whole Republican field would like to try to get out there right now.

So tough for him. It's really interesting to see where he's going to go with this when we finally get there.

CROWLEY: I love a story we don't know the ending to. Joe Johns sitting with me here. We have Wolf Blitzer on the phone, Ron Bonjean Republican strategist also here with us, and of course Shannon Travis is on the scene. We'll all be back in just a second.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Welcome back.

We are just minutes away from an expected announcement from Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain. He's been rising in the polls, gaining support, then accusation of infidelity which could put an end or at least suspend his campaign.

These are the live picture here. We're told Herman Cain has arrived on that scene you're looking at. It's supposed to be the opening of headquarters in Atlanta, which actually came to be after a rise in the polls. We're also told he's been meeting with donors this morning because if you're going to go on, you're going to need someone to support you. And so you have to check in with donors.

We've talked so much about allegations of sexual harassment and now allegations of marital infidelity. There were other things as well. A Herman Cain interview with "The Milwaukie Journal's Sentinel's" editorial board when he delivered a halting, confused answer to what seemed like a routine question about Libya. He later tried to explain the answer this way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Libya comment was a pause to gather my thoughts. I'm not going to back down from that. People want to make a big deal about it. Remember, if you're asked seven or eight questions on seven or eight different topics and somebody switches to Libya and they're not clear about the question, before I shoot from the lip, I gather my thoughts. That's all that was. Whatever people want to think of it, I can't change that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Republican Strategist Ron Bonjean is here with Joe Johns and I watching all this unfold. I think that the point here is Libya, there were holes in the nine-nine-nine economic plan, this is not simply because someone came out and said I had a 13-year affair with Herman Cain. It wasn't solely on the basis of that.

BONJEAN: There have been other mistakes. And I think you can see this is the product of a person who is not a politician, who didn't know necessarily how to run a professional campaign. He has operatives relatively inexperienced. And you can see that it shows. His complaint was he needed time to think. In politics you need to have those answers down pat. You need to fire them off quickly and show people you have the breadth and depth to able to be commander in chief.

You know, this is what the primary process is about. Right now we're seeing what the primary process has to offer. He's made several mistakes. I think everyone liked him because he was a straight talker, direct. He started driving enthusiasm around it. You know what, when you're on top and you're not prepared you can get knocked off really easily. CROWLEY: Joe Johns, it's so true because very often what we like about a candidate brings them down. Everyone said, my goodness, Herman Cain, what a breath of fresh air. He's not a schooled politician, speaks from the heart. And then we go, whoa, he doesn't know anything.

JOHNS: His greatest strength is his greatest weakness. There's so many people out there who really like the way Herman Cain approached things. They really like his disdain for the media. And it's been called before playful arrogance I think that he's had out there in public discourse, which people really latched onto because it felt very fresh and new and different from the sort of polished politician you see coming out of Washington, D.C.

But when you get him into a situation where you're actually talking about policy and specific sort of fine line distinctions between things that separate a Democrat from Republican, a conservative from liberal, they still have to speak the Washington language in order not to get themselves into trouble. Herman Cain has gotten himself into trouble before.

CROWLEY: And Ron, one of the things people say this only proves you can't be a nonpolitician and run because we should point out Herman Cain is a very accomplished guy. He had virtually a very, if not impoverished, at least a meager upbringing in terms of things on the table, but lots of support from family. He went a nontraditional way, became a hugely successful businessman, and yet just got tripped up on things that were rookie mistakes.

BONJEAN: That's exactly right. I do think you can be a nonpolitician and run for president and be successful, but you have to acknowledge your weaknesses and really, really work on shoring them up. You have to bring in professional campaign operatives, have a professional strategy that engages in the key primary states, understand the issues.

You know what, he was just put in a situation where he didn't have all that and he was thrust into the spotlight because everyone thought Rick Perry was going to be that politician who could take the Republican flag and run it up the hill. Instead they turned to Herman Cain who had absolutely no idea he would be thrust into the front- runner spot.

JOHNS: There's also a tremendous learning curve that comes with learn and doing for president of the United States. And a lot of people have questioned whether he's actually a very curious person and sort of does a lot of reading in a lot of different places to try to get underneath policy issues or what have you so he wouldn't get tripped up.

We've seen that before with fresh faces to get tripped up, particularly who are sort of attractive to the Tea Party. Think of Sarah Palin and her rough start four years ago when she started getting hit with specific policy questions and really didn't know how to handle them very well. We've seen it before. But that newness is what attracts people and that sense of not being rehearsed is something that will go a long way if, in fact, you still know the issues. That's the problem, you still have to know the issues even if you don't looked rehearsed.

CROWLEY: For the purposes of the audience, what you're seeing from the stage, we tend to see a lot on the campaign trail. You have a candidate not quite ready to take the stage, so they have lots of people who have to get up there and wing it. And my salute to all of them. The crowd is waiting for one thing and they have to listen to you.

We're going to take a quick break and be back. We're awaiting Herman Cain.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Hi, Candy Crowley here with CNN in Washington. Herman Cain is just arriving. You can see his bus here. This looks very much like a campaign appearance, not like any guy who is ready to get out. But like anything in politics, it can be deceiving. We're assuming Herman Cain is on that bus, has just pulled up. The crowd has been waiting a couple of hours at least to see Herman Cain, who I believe now is coming down with Mrs. Cain.

JOHNS: Hand in hand.

CROWLEY: That says a lot. We've talked very much about these politician's wives and how they react to various reports unproven and certainly disputed by Herman Cain that he had a longtime affair. So we, honestly, none of us sitting here can tell you what's going to happen, which makes this a very, very interesting story.

JOHNS: You see that picture just coming off the bus, the first thing that comes to my mind is what they said last week, which was that this reassessment they were doing was not about getting out of the race. We'll see. It may well be they decided to be consistent and either do something in the middle or not get off the bus just yet because they certainly pulled up in a bus.

CROWLEY: They sure did, with Mrs. Cain. Obviously this is a crowd that's been waiting to hear from him so we're going to turn down our mic and listen to him for what may be the continuation of his campaign, the end of it, or the suspension.

(MUSIC)

(APPLAUSE)

CAIN: Thank you, my friends. Well, you all are great.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I love y'all, too.

CROWD: Gloria, Gloria, Gloria, Gloria!

CAIN: Well, let me first say that as usual, the Cain supporters are not warm weather supporters. And I can't thank all of you enough for what you've done, how far we have come, and the things that we have done, the things that we have been able to achieve.

You know, I chose to run for president because the politicians in Washington, D.C. wouldn't do their jobs. That's why I chose to run. They have failed to provide economic growth. They have failed to get spending under control. They have failed to make us less dependent on foreign oil. These are some of the reasons that inspired me to run for president.

(APPLAUSE)

CAIN: And if you look -- if you look at the last 40 years, we've seen that same kind of failure. It's just that the mess has just gotten bigger. You are frustrated, I was frustrated, millions of other people were frustrated. And it was out of that frustration that I made the decision to run, because the people in Washington, D.C. are either playing the blame game or pointing fingers or throwing crumbs to the American people rather than bold solutions to fix the problems. America deserves more than that.

(APPLAUSE)

CAIN: And since the politicians have continued to fail, I decided to run for president and you all responded as you are responding now, and I thank you and I am honored by the deep support of so many people across this country, because it expresses the frustration of so many people across this country.

Now, when I made the decision to run, I didn't fit the usual description of somebody that ought to be running for president.

(APPLAUSE)

CAIN: I had never held public office before.

(APPLAUSE)

CAIN: I didn't have high-name ID.

(APPLAUSE)

CAIN: But right now my name is probably 99.9.

(APPLAUSE)

CAIN: And I didn't have a kajillion dollars.

Because what we learned is that the voice of the people is more powerful than the voice of the media.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

CAIN: And secondly, we have learned that message is more powerful than money.

(APPLAUSE)

CAIN: And you know, we approved something else.

You see I grew up in a world of segregated water fountains. My father was a chauffeur. My mother was a maid. We showed that you didn't have to have a degree from Harvard in order to run for president.

(APPLAUSE)

CAIN: We showed that you didn't have to have a political pedigree to run for president.

(APPLAUSE)

CAIN: And one of the biggest things that we have shown is that we, the people, are still in charge of this country.

(APPLAUSE)

CAIN: So today we are one month away from the Iowa Caucuses. With over 300 million Americans in our nation, we stand here, I stand here, because of you.

And if you look at the top three Republican candidates right now and you consider the president and the White House, we can say, I'm in the final four.

(APPLAUSE)

CAIN: We're in the final four.

(APPLAUSE)

CAIN: And when you think of where I came from on Pelham Street and Fifth Ward right here in Atlanta and now to be in the final four for the presidency, this is a great nation.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

CAIN: That's why this nation is so great.

And I'll tell you what, it's a powerful and humbling position to be in. Proving this, that we can do this, was one of the greatest things, one of the greatest gifts that you and I could give to this country.

I've often said one of America's greatest strengths is its ability to change. We have created some significant change on this journey so far. I am proof of that, and you are proof of that.

(APPLAUSE)

CAIN: Because I am proof that a common man could lead this nation, because I consider myself one of you, not one of the political elites. I'm one of you.

Our nation is tired of hearing the politicians blame each other. It's time for solutions. But as false accusations about me continue, they have sidetracked and distracted my ability to present solutions to the American people.

Now, I have made many mistakes in life. Everybody has. 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 have been the very first to own up to any mistakes that I have made, even if the political elites don't think I handle it exactly the way the political elites handle it. I handle it my way because that's the type of person that I am.

(APPLAUSE)

CAIN: But because of these false and unproved accusations, it has pained and had a tremendous painful price on my family. These false and unproved allegations continue to be spinned in the media and in the court of public opinion so as to create a cloud of doubt over me and this campaign and my family. That spin hurts. It hurts my wife, it hurts my family, it hurts me, and it hurts the American people because you are being denied solutions to our problems.

(APPLAUSE)

CROWD: Herman! Herman! Herman! Herman! Herman! Herman! Herman!

CAIN: Now --

CROWD: Herman! Herman!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We love you!

CAIN: Now here is why it hurts, because my wife, my family, and I, we know that those false and unproved allegations are not true.

(APPLAUSE)

CAIN: So one of the first declarations that I want to make to you today is that I am at peace with my god.

(APPLAUSE)

CAIN: I am at peace with my wife.

(APPLAUSE)

CAIN: And she is at peace with me.

CROWD: Gloria! Gloria! Gloria! Gloria! Gloria!

CAIN: And I am at peace with my family and I'm at peace with myself, which is one of the most important things.

Now, that being said, becoming president was Plan A. And before you get discouraged, today I want to describe Plan B.

So 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, not because we are not fighters, not because I'm not a fighter. It's just that when I went through this reassessment of the impact on my family first, the impact on you, my supporters, your support has been unwavering and undying, as well as the impact on the ability to continue to raise the necessary funds to be competitive, we had to come to this conclusion. But we had to come to this conclusion that it would be best to suspend this campaign.

That's the bad news. Here is the good news. The pundits would like for me to shut up, drop out, and go away. Well as my grandmother who lived to be 104 years old used to say, when somebody was dead wrong, bless their little hearts.

(LAUGHTER)

CAIN: I am not going to be silenced, and I'm not going away.

(APPLAUSE)

CAIN: And therefore, as of today, Plan B. Plan B. And I call it thecainsolutions.com, and let me explain why.

You see, there are three audiences out there, folks, that we have dealt with, that I have had to deal with. There's the media class, there's the political class, and there's we, the people. It is we, the people, that got us to this point this far. It is we, the people, that wants change in Washington, D.C. It is we, the people, that are responsible for this massive movement that's going on across this country.

I call it the citizens movement, the Tea Party movement, the conservative movement. It is a movement by we, the people, that are going to insist on change in the United States of America. And Plan B is that I will continue to be a voice for the people.

That's why today we are launching thecainsolutions.com where the people will choose, not the media, not the politicians, and the people will show that the people are still in charge of this country.

Through this new organization, I will still be promoting the biggest change and transfer of power out of Washington D.C. back to the people since this nation began, and that is the 9-9-9 plan. It's not going away. I will still be actively supporting and promoting a foreign policy that starts with peace through strength and clarity. I will still be promoting actively an energy independence plan for America. We can and we will become energy independent.

Now, I know that many of you are disappointed. I understand that. I know that many of you all are disappointed and I certainly understand that. And I am disappointed that it came to this point that we had to make this decision.

One of the reasons that I ran for president of the United States was such that I could change Washington, D.C. from the inside. Plan B is that we are going to have to change it from the outside. It will take a little longer, we're going to have to work a little harder, but we will change it from the outside. One other thing. I will be making an endorsement in the near future. I will be making an endorsement. And I can tell you right now, it will not be the current occupant of the White House. That will not be my endorsement.

America has learned something about this process of running for president. It's a dirty game. It's a dirty, dirty game. But I happen to believe that the American people are sick of this mess. And if I'm not the outsider to get there, I happen to believe that the day will come when the American people will reject all of the distractions, all the false accusations and unproved accusations, and it will make a change because that's what we've got to do to get real change in this country and get it on the right track.

And as I think about my parents, who raised my brother and I right here in the Atlanta area, and they taught us three very valuable lessons that you share -- belief in god, belief in ourselves, and belief in the greatest country in the world, the United States of America.

And even though I have had to suspend my campaign, I have not given up on America. I have not given up on the United States of America, and here is why. Look at our history, when we have been challenged the most, it is when we, the people, have risen to the occasion the most. And I happen to believe we will do it again because we, the people, are still in charge of this country.

Let me leave you with this. I believe these words came from the "Pokeman" movie -- the media pointed that out. I'm not sure who the original author is, so don't go write an article about the poem. But it says a lot about where I am, where I am with my wife and my family, and where we are as a nation.

Life can be a challenge. Life can seem impossible. It's never easy when there's so much on the line, but you and I can make a difference. There's a mission just for you and me. Just look inside and you will find just what you can do. Just look inside, and you will find just what you can do.

I've had to look inside to find what I can do, and here is what I can do. Here is what we can do. We can put "united" back into the United States of America and move the shining city on a hill back to the top of the hilltop where it belongs. And I will never apologize for the greatness of the United States of America.

God bless you. I love you, and thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

CROWLEY: Well, that is Herman Cain. For all purposes he's the former presidential candidate Herman Cain. He has suspended his campaign. He's with his wife there. Gloria Cain came out and said, listen, none of these charges against me are true.

They are, quote, "false, unproven, not true." That he is at peace with his God, his wife and she is at peace with me. Nonetheless, it's all been such a distraction he can't carry on his campaign anymore. He's going to suspend it and go to plan B, which he says is change from the outside.

Now you see him greeting supporters. We know for sure Gloria Cain never really liked this sort of public life that much. But boy was she there for a moment, even though it's a moment when he's pulling out.

Now listen, technically speaking before I have lots of folks to chew this over with me, we should say that suspending one's campaign, you can still raise money to pay off debts if that's a problem.

We shall see, but this is over. This man says he will soon be endorsing someone. So Joe Johns, your impressions.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Yes, first thing that comes to mind is he had to do this. He didn't really have any choice. He was distracting from the message of the other Republicans who were in the field.

He was running out of money. His poll numbers were going down. Simply no choice. I mean, if you stand back and take like the 30,000 foot view, what is this? It's another sign of the perils of running for the president of the United States when you have a colorful background.

And we in the media really don't have the power to say conclusively what may or may not have happened in the past. We know there have been a number of accusations. We know that he's denied them. What we do know is many of these are women he knows, and it's caused a problem for him and it's created a situation where he can't be a viable candidate for president of the United States.

CROWLEY: He is, in fact, right, it got in the way of his message. Ron Bonjean is with me here. Ron, about a minute to a break here. Just your initial impressions.

BONJEAN: Yes, I think it's a good idea that he suspended his campaign. I think there's a sigh of relief among the Republican ranks that those candidates will be able to now get the message out without this side show distraction.

I also think it's interesting he mentioned he's going to endorse another candidate to make sure he still remains relevant in this race in some fashion.

I think the other candidates will be calling him now and courting him and trying to get that endorsement for those Cain supporters that are out there.

CROWLEY: In fact, Ron, that's already begun. Michele Bachmann's campaign putting out this reaction, Herman Cain provided an important voice to this process. His ideas and energy generated tremendous enthusiasm for the conservative movement at a time it was so desperately needed to restore confidence in our country. I wish Herman, his wife, Gloria and his family all the best. Michele Bachmann who could use an endorsement, certainly Herman Cain's numbers have gone done. Nonetheless, there are supports there with him. We're going to take a break and we will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Hi, I'm Candy Crowley in CNN's Washington Bureau.

You are now looking at the vestiges of what was a Herman Cain event in Atlanta where he was opening his presidential headquarters. It is the last event of his presidential campaign.

He says he's going to plan B that he can no longer get his message across because of what he calls all these false accusations. These untrues that are out there about him on various things.

He arrived at this event with his wife, Gloria Cain, clearly supporting him. He, in fact, said in his speech I'm at peace with my wife, she is at peace with him.

Of course, the latest allegation against Cain was that he had a 13- year affair and helped to support, to a certain extent, a woman who said that she was involved in that affair with him. So basically, the Republican campaign is now minus one candidate. Though he says he's suspending it, all that really means is he can continue to raise money to clear up debts, et cetera. You are not likely to see him out on the campaign trail or in the debates, which he added to enormously.

People are drawn to this man because he has a very strong personality, someone that people related to early on. A huge jump in the polls where he led at times. Boy, it rained down on him. Not just allegations about sexual harassment or long-term affairs but about his knowledge of the issues.

So Ron Bonjean, let me bring you in in these final moments. Now he's going to set up this website. We can read nothing into this, can we, other than it's over.

BONJEAN: That's exactly right. It was a very good speech. A perfect exit speech. He had us all hinging on what he was going to do. I thought the segue to the website was smart. It gave him a place to go. The fact he has an endorsement he can give to other -- another republican primary candidate is key for him. He's an excellent speaker. So I thought, you know, in this final moment for him on the presidential trail, it was probably one of his best moments.

CROWLEY: My thanks to Ron Bonjean, republican strategist, to my colleagues, Shannon Travis in Atlanta, Joe Johns here with me in Washington.

I'm going to bow out and leave you in the capable hands of Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta -- Fred.