Chicago Conservatives Feel Disappointment, See Opportunity in Cain's Departure

Chicago Tea Party representative says Herman Cain's decline is unfortunate

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    NEWSLETTERS

    CQ Roll Call Photos
    Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain addresses the Congressional Health Care Caucus in Rayburn about his positions on health care issues.

    Republican political strategist Isaac Hayes said Saturday he expected a much different outcome when Herman Cain began his speech earlier in the afternoon.

    Instead of pushing ahead, the Republican candidate said he was suspending his campaign.

    "I was surprised. His campaign had just put up a website a day or two ago, 'Women for Herman Cain,' and I assumed that as a sign he was going to go ahead and tough it out," said Hayes.

    His experience comes from both sides of the ticket. In 2010, He ran against Jesse Jackson Jr. for the 2nd Congressional District seat. He said he believes Cain could have revived his presidential push after allegations of sexual harassment surfaced.

    "He and his campaign got it right when they gave the speech about Ms. Bialek," said Hayes. "If he'd had did that, addressed it head on, forcefully, acknowledged his innocence, I think he would have been better out, but it was a death by a thousand cuts."

    Sharon Bialek of Glenview was one of the first women to come forward with harassment allegations.

    Cain on Saturday maintained the allegations against him aren't true. Still, he has acknowledged that financial contributions fell sharply and that he lost several high-profile supporters.

    Eric Kohn of the Chicago Tea Party said the decline is unfortunate.

    "We're not innocent until proven guilty. We're guilty until proven innocent, and there's really no way to prove your innocence if you're Herman Cain," said Kohn.

    Many Tea Party supporters gravitated toward Cain for his fiscal and socially conservative views, dubbing him the antithesis of Mitt Romney. Cain's departure from the race gives the remaining candidates a golden opportunity to secure their status as the authentic conservative that many GOP voters seek.

    "I think in that sense the Tea Party is optimistic to getting back to having a conversation -- an adult conversation -- about the direction this country is going right now and the direction this country needs to go in the future," said Kohn.