Herman Cain Rethinks Non-Endorsement, Goes With Newt ‘Bold Ideas’ Gingrich

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The two friends when they were still opponents.Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Ten days ago, Atlanta businessman Herman Cain raised a mighty "huh?" from the political class when he endorsed not a candidate, but "the people." Yesterday, however, at a West Palm Beach County Republicans gathering, Cain finally caved in and threw his weight behind one of the remaining (battle-weary) candidates: Newt Gingrich. While Cain had been waffling on whom to endorse since he dropped out of the race in early December, many believed he'd been leaning Gingrich since almost the beginning — as he put it last night, "I had it in my heart and mind a long time ago." Now it remains to be seen whether the author of the "9-9-9" tax plan has enough (mostly tea party) support left in the Sunshine State to make a difference for Gingrich come Tuesday.

Here's the text of Cain's endorsement, where he passes on his "bold ideas" mantle to Gingrich, whom he also likens to sausage meat.

I hereby officially and enthusiastically endorse Newt Gingrich for president of the United States. Speaker Gingrich is a patriot. Speaker Gingrich is not afraid of bold ideas. And I also know that Speaker Gingrich is running for president and going through this sausage-grinder—I know what this sausage-grinder is all about. I know he is going through this sausage-grinder because he cares about the future of the United States of America.

While the timing of this announcement will certainly nab Gingrich some free airtime (or "earned media" as the campaigns' ad men like to say), it's unlikely to move him much in the polls, which are starting to show a double-digit lead for Mitt Romney. Still, Herman Cain was once quite popular in Florida, running in third in November with between 12 and 15 percent of likely primary voters, and from Gingrich's point of view, every little bit will have to do.

If nothing else, at least now this ties up Gingrich and Romney in terms of who has the most endorsements from former GOP candidates.

Mitt Romney: 2 (Tim "Obamneycare" Pawlenty, Jon "I speak Mandarin" Huntsman)

Newt Gingrich: 2 (Rick "Oops" Perry, Herman "9-9-9" Cain)

Which leaves Michele "I'm a former tax attorney" Bachmann to break the tie.