Former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain endorsed Newt Gingrich for the GOP nomination late on Saturday — at the same time accepting a position as the former House speaker’s tax reform chairman.
The author of the now-famous 9-9-9 tax plan announced his endorsement in West Palm Beach, Fla., three days ahead of that state’s vital primary. The endorsement is a welcome boost for Gingrich, who has found himself having to defend himself against a vicious onslaught of attacks from former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
“It is time for conservatives and Republicans to refocus their attention on the ultimate mission of defeating President Obama,” Cain said at the Palm Beach County GOP Lincoln Day Dinner. “I believe Speaker Gingrich is the bold leader we need to accomplish this mission.”
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Cain was catapulted to national attention when his own campaign for the nomination took off in the fall. His signature 9-9-9 plan, which would have provided 9 percent taxation on income tax, corporate tax, and new national sales taxes, caught fire with the public. At one time, he led in the polls for the right to take on President Barack Obama in November. But his campaign faltered and he dropped out of the race in early December.
Cain and Gingrich both come from the Atlanta area and have been friends for more than 20 years. The two men worked together in the early 1990s to help defeat Hillary Clinton’s plans for healthcare, and as House speaker, Gingrich appointed Cain to the National Commission on Economic Growth and Tax Reform Commission, better known as the Kemp Commission.
Gingrich said he was “honored” to have Cain’s support and immediately announced that the former pizza mogul would co-chair his tax reform and economic growth advisory council.
“America’s challenges are too great for mere tinkering around the edges. Just like Herman, who ran his campaign based on big ideas, I am running on bold solutions that will boost job creation, cut bureaucratic red tape, and fundamentally transform Washington,” Gingrich said.
When Cain suspended his presidential campaign, he promised to stay engaged. This he has done. The watershed moment of that engagement might very well be his endorsement of his former rival for the highest office in the land.
The venue for the endorsement was as unique as Cain’s spirited style, with Gingrich actually stepping in for Herman Cain as the headliner for the Palm Beach County event. The former House speaker took over Cain’s spot as keynote speaker at the Palm Beach County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day dinner Saturday evening. Cain then stole back the limelight with his surprise endorsement.
The event came three days ahead of Florida’s presidential primary.
Previously, Cain had been tapped by the Tea Party Express to give its response to the 2012 State of the Union address. His 13-minute speech was critiqued as being a lot more animated and vigorous than Indiana governor Mitch Daniels’ official GOP response.
Also not long ago, on Fox News this morning, Cain applauded Gingrich’s well-received admonishment of CNN’s John King, who infamously opened a two-hour debate by asking the former Georgia congressman whether he wanted to respond to an accusation from his ex-wife. Both men agreed that it demeaned the presidential forum.
Good for him.