Herman Cain announced today that he will not continue his bid for the Republican nomination for president, but he continues to call the claims of infidelity against him "false" and "baseless."
Cain told supporters outside of his Atlanta headquarters that rumors of sexual impropriety had worn on him, his family and his campaign.
"As of today, with a lot of prayer and soul searching, I am suspending my presidential campaign," he said. "I am suspending my presidential campaign because of the continued distraction, the continued hurt ... on me, on my family."
The Cain train might have been derailed, but the candidate's decision to withdraw his bid for the presidency marks the end of an unprecedented campaign strategy that centered on an infectious speaker with an outsider's perspective and a catchy "9-9-9" slogan.
Political experts say, for better or worse, Cain's 2012 bid will be remembered for its unique approach to presidential politics on all fronts from tax reform to crisis management.
Cain's surge began after he won the Florida Straw poll in September, an indicator that has correctly predicted every GOP presidential nominee since 1979—until now.
And following the win, instead of redirecting his efforts to early primary states, Cain continued a national campaign with his book tour.
Veteran communications expert Matt Mackowiak says Cain lost an opportunity there, but made it clear early on that he did not want to play by traditional rules. He adds that Cain's defiance of "Washington politics" ushered in a new precedent that made holding political office a less desirable prerequisite to winning the GOP nomination.
"We've entered a period now when personality politics has really significant power," Mackowiak says. "Cain did within the Republican party what Howard Dean did within the Democratic party. He captured the imagination of a lot of people who had not previously engaged and he did it by sheer force of his ability to communicate."
And even though Dr. Larry Sabato, director for the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, says Cain's 9-9-9 plan had some obvious flaws, he gives Cain's bold economic plan credit for pushing tax reform to the top of the GOP agenda. But the simplified plan wasn't without it perils for a political novice.
"Cain demonstrated the dangers of an unvetted candidate," Sabato said.
Tea Party activists take solace in Cain's campaign, even though he flamed out before the first official primary votes were cast.
"He certainly showed that America is willing to embrace a bold, simplified and fair approach to tax reform," said Colin Hanna, president of the conservative non-profit Let Freedom Ring.
In addition to pushing tax reform, Cain played a significant role in letting the Tea Party shed its intolerant reputation, she added.
"I would like to think at the very least he has demonstrated that the Tea Party is genuinely inclusive rather than racist as the left like to paint it," Hanna said. "Cain and the Tea Party genuinely resonated with each other."
In the end, Cain's unique vision for his campaign couldn't withstand the constant allegations of sexual impropriety that plagued it—first a slew of sexual harassment charges, then accusations of a 13-year affair with businesswoman Ginger White.
Mackowiak says communications experts will study Cain's crisis communication debacle for 20 years into the future.