What Herman Cain's Presidential Campaign Suspension Means for Hollywood Conservatives (Analysis)
The Republican candidate announced Saturday that he was halting his bid for the White House amid allegations of sexual harassment and an extramarital affair.
Former Godfather’s Pizza executive Herman Cain’s suspension of his quest for the GOP presidential nomination is a double blow to Hollywood: late-night comedians have lost a rich source of material and the industry’s ideological, mainly libertarian Republicans have lost the candidate many found most appealing.
Suspending a presidential campaign almost always is a prelude to dropping out of the race. Candidates usually do it because a “suspended” campaign can go on collecting donations and, in some cases, matching funds to cover debts already incurred.
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Among the current slate of Republican hopefuls, Cain had a definite appeal for many of Hollywood’s most conservative Republicans. Unlike, say, Texas Gov. Rick Perry or Rep. Michelle Bachmann, he didn’t come freighted with the baggage of Evangelical Christianity’s social conservatism.
He also projected a natural, informality and spontaneity — the kind of outsider authenticity that attracts entertainment industry activists, no matter what their party. Cain’s appeal was reinforced by a goofy series of Internet campaign videos, spots so off-center that they lent the genre a kind of underground, auteur sensibility.
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A series of allegations involving various claims of sexual harassment and long-term marital infidelity now has brought all that to nothing. While that sort of problem barely registers in Hollywood — even among Republicans — it dooms his campaign in the coming GOP primaries in places like Iowa and South Carolina.
It’s hard to see where the industry’s ideological conservatives turn next in the turbulent Republican race. Former Gov. Mitt Romney is the candidate of Hollywood’s executive suite Republicans, but he seems to hold little appeal for others.
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman is an unflinching economic conservative — he’s categorically endorsed the Ryan budget proposal, but believes in things like climate change, which most conservatives disdain.
One-time House Speaker Newt Gingrich has surged in the polls, but part of his self-reinvention involves the sort of social conservatism and pious religiosity that grates in Hollywood. Moreover, as one Democratic wit recently put it, “even Newt’s baggage has baggage.”
So where does it leave the thoughtful conservative Republican west of La Cienega?
Ron Paul, anyone?