Herman Cain Backs Newt Gingrich

Surprise announcement could give much-needed boost

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Those holding their breath that businessman Herman Cain would re-enter the GOP presidential primary can sigh in relief—sort of.

The former Godfather's Pizza CEO who suspended his campaign last year amid a series of accusations of sexual harassment and marital infidelity re-emerged on Saturday night at a GOP dinner, but only to announce his support for Newt Gingrich.

The former House speaker is lagging in Sunshine state polling and could surely use any boost Cain's endorsement might bring.

[Check out the latest political cartoons.]

"I had it in my heart and mind a long time," Cain reportedly said at an event with Gingrich in West Palm Beach, Florida. "Speaker Gingrich is a patriot. Speaker Gingrich is not afraid of bold ideas."

Cain's support might actually carry some sway in Florida, the state where he won a straw poll that helped propel him to the top of the crowded GOP field last summer. As many political observers noted, in 2008 then-Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's endorsement of Arizona Sen. John McCain in the days leading up to the primary might have helped him secure the win and eventually the nomination.

Though Gingrich has embraced the Tea Party voters in Florida and other states, it was Cain more than anyone else in the Republican presidential race who embodied their anti-establishment message. Texas Gov. Rick Perry also threw his support to Gingrich when he dropped out of the running; former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman backed Romney and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann has so far declined to weigh in.

[See photos of the 2012 GOP candidates.]

And while Cain's endorsement might fire up supporters, it does not fill up Gingrich's campaign war chest. That task has been headed by Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire casino mogul who, along with his wife, have donated $10 million to a so-called "super-PAC" spending in support of the former House speaker.

At a forum on Saturday, Gingrich was asked about his relationship with Adelson and his position on gambling.

Gingrich, who first made clear he was not coordinating with the group spending on his behalf because it would violate campaign finance laws, said he had concerns about the proliferation of gambling.

[Primary Primer: 5 Things to Know About Florida.]

"Let me say up front, at the risk of offending some of my friends who have been very helpful, I worry, not just about casino gambling, I worry about lotteries—I worry about the degree to which the poor are the most likely to end up spending a large percent of their income gambling in the false hope that they can beat the system," Gingrich told a crowd of hundreds at the Aloma Baptist Church in Winter Park, Fla.

He said he and Adelson share a common bond in their support of Israel and recognition of Iran as a threat.

"My relationship with Sheldon is about a very specific thing," Gingrich said. "I believe that we should be strong enough to stop the Iranians and that Israel should be allowed to exist and I'm prepared to defend that."

  • See photos of the GOP candidates in Florida
  • Read: McCain trashes Gingrich on earmarks
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