NPR logo The Herman Cain Campaign Death Watch Officially Begins

The Herman Cain Campaign Death Watch Officially Begins

Herman Cain. Mike Roemer/AP hide caption

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Mike Roemer/AP

Herman Cain.

Mike Roemer/AP

The news that Herman Cain is reassessing his campaign, and reports that he is again having trouble raising money, suggest that we are seeing the beginning of the end of his presidential campaign, that we are now in Cain campaign death watch mode.

Cain's surge to the top of the Republican presidential field always seemed improbable, just as unlikely as Rep. Michele Bachmann's.

Both raised doubts about whether they had the right temperament, political skills, ideologies and gravitas to be president.

While Bachmann's was ultimately eclipsed by the entry into the race of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Cain managed to pull off the uncanny trick of a self-eclipse. (Actually, Perry managed this trick, too.)

Whatever happens from hereon in, Cain will always have those precious few weeks where he was atop some national and state polls. He became the first African-American in a Republican presidential nomination race to achieve that. His accomplishment, unfortunately, has been somewhat sullied, to say the least.

Even after the first reports of sexual harassment emerged, he was able to keep support which was even more remarkable. Think about it. A black man was accused of sexually harassing several women, at least two of whom were white. One of the women told a lurid story in she alleged that Cain touched her in ways that, if you believe her story, went way beyond harassment.

And yet for a while he still sustained some level of support in an overwhelmingly white political party. Political scientists and psychologists will likely be studying the dynamics of this race for years and maybe we'll get a better understanding of what exactly was going on.

But now the latest twist in the story, the emergence of Ginger White who claims to have a had 13-year affair with the married Cain, seems like it may the final microburst on a campaign that had already lost a lot of lift because of the harassment charges and gaffes like his Libya meltdown.

The wonder is not that Cain is where he is now (who foresaw the sexual conduct maelstrom?) but that he ever surged to begin with. As we have seen, not all Republican candidates catch a wave. Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman have been waiting for theirs but so far it's been in vain.