In a move that is not totally surprising, but that could provide a big boost of energy to his surging campaign, Newt Gingrich is about to receive an endorsement from recently deposed presidential candidate Herman Cain. Fox5 Atlanta was the first to report the story, which says that announcement could comes as soon as today — right after Gingrich meets with Donald Trump, of course.
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If you were off the grid this weekend, you may not have noticed that Cain "suspended" his campaign on Saturday, even while continuing to deny the allegations of the 13-year extramarital affair that are forced him to quit. Gingrich was already hoping to be the beneficiary of Cain supporters (despite Michele Bachmann's insistence that they should belong to her) looking for a new horse to back, but now the pizza magnate looks set to officially throw his weight, such as it is, behind Newt.
However, it's unclear that Gingrich is prepared to turn this endorsement into votes. He continued to rise in the polls this weekend, and is now the one clear challenger remaining to threaten Mitt Romney's inevitability as the Republican nominee. But as Trip Gabriel and Jeff Zeleny write in The New York Times today, Gingrich simply does have not the organization, manpower, or money needed to turn those ethereal poll numbers into actual votes. Mitt Romney has essentially been building his state-by-state organization since bowing out in 2004, and Newt has less than a month remaining to play catch-up. He and Cain both have the fans, but without "boots on the ground," that won't amount to much on primary days. Even if he manages surprises in Iowa and New Hampshire, will he be prepared to go toe-to-toe with Romney in 50 states?
Also, what might have been even more valuable than Cain's endorsement, was the distraction that he provided when he was still running. His various scandals and missteps conveniently took much of the negative spotlight away from Gingrich, who is now fully under the microscope of voters and the media. The worst thing that can happen to Gingrich right at this moment is for voters to take a serious look as his viability (and his glaring weaknesses) to decide if he's truly the best candidate for the party. All his faults are now on display and Cain won't be there to take the bullets anymore.
Gingrich is slated to hold a 2:00 p.m. news conference on Monday, where we may get more news about the Cain (or Trump?) endorsement.