Week In News: What's Next For Cain?

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Following the suspension of Herman Cain's presidential campaign, are the other GOP candidates awaiting his endorsement? Weekends on All Things Considered guest host Rachel Martin speaks with James Fallows of The Atlantic about that story and others from the past week.


And as for the remaining candidates, we'll turn now to James Fallows of The Atlantic. Jim joins us as he does most Saturdays for a look behind the headlines. Hey, Jim.

JAMES FALLOWS: Hello, Rachel.

MARTIN: So we just heard Herman Cain say that he is suspending his campaign. Where do the Cain supporters go from here?

FALLOWS: Certainly, we'll see that over the next couple of days. After Mr. Cain makes his endorsement and the race shakes out, we would assume not many of them would go to Mitt Romney since Herman Cain has been the latest recipient of the apparent anti-Romney sentiment within the party.

It's worth mentioning, there has never been a presidential race like this ever because of the volatility, where over the last six months, we've had now four apparent front-runners who have then disappeared from the field or gone to the second tier. And so with the departure of Herman Cain, we have interesting moments for three candidates. One is Mitt Romney, who's been the apparent leader and the logical candidate all the way along but has somehow not been able to solidify the sale, especially with conservative backers.

We have Newt Gingrich, who, for all of his baggage, as they say, is now deemed the standard bearer of the conservatives, and Jon Huntsman, who has been a centrist figure, who may be the next person to get some attention.

MARTIN: OK. Of course, the economy is going to play a huge role in this race, already is. Friday's jobs report brought us a little bit of good news, though, right? The nation's unemployment rate is down from 9 percent to 8.6 percent. Is this moving in the right direction, Jim?

FALLOWS: Yes. And it's certainly a substantial improvement from the over 10 percent rate early in President Obama's term. On the politics of it, I think the narrative tension is essentially the Republicans arguing how bad things still are. And certainly, they are bad in the United States, in Europe and around the world. And the Obama administration will be saying that things are getting better. And so I think for all we discuss about the tactics of politics and the approaches the two parties will use, whether this trend towards lower unemployment rates continues or not is the main axis on which the election will turn.

MARTIN: It's obviously a global economy, though. And the Obama administration is keeping a very close eye on what's happening in Europe. And right now, the financial crisis there seems to be reaching a tipping point. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is calling for member countries to start over essentially, renegotiate the treaties that set up the eurozone in the first place. There are some big meetings scheduled for next week with European leaders and U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner. Jim, what can we expect to come out of this?

FALLOWS: I think it's worth remembering how large in historical terms are the changes now under way in Europe with the ripple effects in Asia and the United States and every place else. The European Union, for its part, is working out some real basic constitutional questions about its initial structure and how they resolve that. Whether the eurozone continues or not, nobody really knows.

It's a time in world history where financial markets are more closely connected than they've ever been before. And volatility from one region can spread more easily. Banks are larger and more influential than they've been before. Financial derivatives are also more influential and less well understood. And so if this seems both puzzling and disturbing, there's a reason for that. There are large historical trends under way, and they're going to have a big impact on how we save and spend our money, whether our markets go up or down.

MARTIN: I want to stay overseas and ask you about the news this week out of Myanmar, also known as Burma. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had quite a warm visit with Aung San Suu Kyi, the democratic activist who was recently released from house arrest. She'd been under arrest for decades. What did this visit signal for the democracy movement there?

FALLOWS: I think it signified a really big potential change. And the way to put it in perspective for most American listeners would be as if, suddenly, relationships between the United States and Cuba were opening up. Burma has been the real outlier in the Asian modernization movement of the last few decades. The new regime over the last year has made a lot of opening measures, including seeming to authorize Aung San Suu Kyi to re-participate in politics after years of being under house arrest. So while the outcome is not certain, I think we have to say this is a positive development.

MARTIN: James Fallows is national correspondent with The Atlantic. You can read his blog at Jim, thanks as always.

FALLOWS: My pleasure, Rachel.

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