Cain: The Democrats might be trying to take me down because I'm their worst nightmare and they'd rather face Gingrich

Makes sense. Who wouldn’t rather face a skilled debater and policy wonk with lots of government experience than a neophyte who sometimes has trouble stating the conservative line against abortion? Skip ahead to 8:30 of the first clip and keep watching through the first two minutes or so of the second. The best part is when he speculates that people have to resort to smear tactics because they can’t make anything stick when they attack him on … foreign policy. Here’s the map from the foreign-policy section of his website, by the way.

If you lost track of whether he’s staying in or getting out of the race, here’s how things have played out over the last 24 hours. Last night, Mark Block said there’s “no way he’s dropping out.” Then today Cain told reporters, “We are reassessing and reevaluating.” Then he got up onstage in Dayton and declared that “The American people are going to raise some Cain in 2012!” and that, while some people may want him to drop out, “The American people have a different idea.” Then he sat down with Cavuto and said he’ll decide whether to quit or not over the next week. That’s just the sort of uncertainty wealthy donors want to hear, I’m sure. Allen West told a radio show this morning that it’s time for Cain to pack it in and quit being a distraction to the rest of the field, a sentiment that seemed to be shared (but not explicitly echoed) by several Republican governors at today’s RGA meeting. NBC asks a good question, though:

What does Cain have to gain by getting out of the GOP presidential race? A future political career? A vice-presidential nomination? You could make the case that by staying in the race – and having some positive debate performances down the stretch – Cain could return to the candidate he was back in August (that is, someone who’s on the stage, who can deliver some memorable lines and is likeable, but who isn’t a threat to win in Iowa or anywhere else).

Yeah, but what does he gain by staying in, especially if there’s a risk of more accusers coming forward? His home life must be suffering from all this and that’ll only make it worse. The only reason I can think of to stick it out is that he’s angling for a show on Fox News a la Huckabee or some similar media platform after the campaign’s over and leaving the race under a cloud of suspicion might hurt his chances at a contract. I don’t think he has to worry — in a world where Client Number Nine can anchor CNN’s primetime line-up, Cain should be just fine — but it probably helps his marketability to persevere, deny everything, and blame the Democrats and the media for being smear machines. Then again, the greater the number of accusers, the more people will wonder about him and the less marketable he’ll be. If he drops out now, media interest in him will evaporate and, probably, so will the chance of new allegations. Tough call. Exit question via Cavuto: If this really is a smear machine at work, how come none of the other candidates have been targeted?

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