11:31 am Nov. 30, 20114
Months ago, back when Herman Cain was still a future ex-front-runner, New York Post society columnist Cindy Adams made a plan to host the candidate at an intimate sit-down dinner at her Park Avenue apartment with a group of influential media and political types.
Cain's Republican-primary moment didn't last quite long enough for the event to happen.
The Sunday dinner was to include Barbara Walters, Matt Lauer, Lesley Stahl, Fox News' Bill O'Reilly and Greta Van Susteren (whose husband, John Coale, is an informal adviser to Herman Cain), New Yorker writer Rebecca Mead, and even a couple of Democrats: Senator Chuck Schumer and Democratic National Committeeman Robert Zimmerman.
Another guest who was scheduled to attend, according to two sources, was New York Post editor in chief Col Allan, whose paper afforded Cain relatively gentle treatment yesterday; the rival Daily News gave top billing to Ginger White, the woman who told the press that she had had a long-term extramarital affair with Cain. (White went public as the campaign was already grappling with multiple claims of sexual harassment.)
But Cain's treatment elsewhere rattled him enough that he told supporters on a morning conference call that he was "reassessing" his struggling campaign in the wake of the new accusations.
Cain's campaign, in typical fashion, stumbled in the course of the day through several iterations of its explanation of what "reassessing" meant. One top aide confirmed that Cain was reassessing his commitment to the race, and another said he was still "full speed ahead." (The former eventually came around to the latter position and said, a short while later, that there was "no way he's quitting.")
The cancellation of Cain's Sunday dinner seemed to be a powerful indication that Cain wasn't exactly full speed ahead, and it suggested that what had been, at the very least, a profile-building lark two months ago—doubling as a profitable book tour—had become something much more difficult and taxing for Cain.
The Cain campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
It was certainly not a great crowd for him to have stood up, if he wants to cultivate relationships that might be useful for a serious Republican presidential contender.
For now, Cain seems to be keeping up the rest of his public schedule. Last night he delivered his first big foreign-policy speech since he struggled to remember the particulars of Libya during an editorial board interview.
"Life can be a challenge," he told the crowd at Hillsdale College in Michigan. "Life can seem impossible. It's never easy when there's so much on the line."
And this morning, Cain is making his previously scheduled stops in the general election battleground of Ohio.
CORRECTION: This article was changed to reflect Col Allan's actual title at the Post.