(Jonathan Ernst, Larry Downing, Downing, Jason Reed, Reed / Reuters)
On a conference call this morning, Cain told his team that he is 'reassessing' the campaign, a source told POLITICO.
What exactly that means remains unclear - one source told POLITICO that the reference had been about how much staff and offices they could afford right now.
But others heard it as him looking to potentially drop out, as NRO's Bob Costa indicates here.
And ABC News says Cain's top aide has confirmed the report:
Herman Cain’s chief of staff Mark Block confirmed to ABC News that the candidate told his senior staff this morning that he is reassessing whether he should stay in the race, as reported by the National Review.
Cain told his staff in a conference call that he’ll make his final decision “over the next several days.”
If you're a mere spectator of the GOP primary, the end of the Cain clown show—if that's what this turns out to be—will obviously be disappointing. But don't forget, the thing that made it truly hilarious—and somewhat disturbing—is that for the entire month of October, Cain was the Republican frontrunner. Even if Cain quits the race, the Republican base that vaulted him to prominence will remain in place, ready and willing to work its twisted magic on the nomination process. And the person who has most to fear from Cain's departure is Mitt Romney: there's now one less Not Romney to divide the GOP.
9:29 AM PT: Whoa!
Now walking it back! “He is not thinking of dropping out of the race,” Gordon added. “He is simply reassessing the state of the campaign."
9:33 AM PT: But despite the walkback, NRO posts the transcript of Cain's call in which he said among other things:
“Now, with this latest one, we have to do an assessment as to whether or not this is going to create too much of a cloud, in some people’s minds, as to whether or not they would be able to support us going forth,” Cain said.That seems like a clear indication that he's thinking of quitting.
“Over the next several days, we are going to continue with the schedule as usual,” he said. “I’ve got a major speech tonight at Hillsdale College on national security and foreign policy, and I will deliver it with vim, vigor, and enthusiasm. And then tomorrow we’ve got some media appearances scheduled. So we’re going to continue until we complete our assessment over the next several days.”
“But if a decision is made, different than to plow ahead, you all will be the first to know.”
9:35 AM PT: One other note about National Review's transcript. They write that it comes from a senior staff call, and that National Review was participating in that call. I know it's tangential to the story, but isn't it a bit weird that a publication would be participating in staff-level conference calls?