Exclusive: Herman Cain's First Interview Since Suspending Campaign

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," December 8, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: On Saturday the Republican presidential field lost one of President Barack Obama's most outspoken critics when businessman Herman Cain announced that he would end his bid for the White House. Let's take a look.


HERMAN CAIN, BUSINESSMAN: As of today, with a lot of prayer and soul searching, I am suspending my presidential campaign.

I am suspending my presidential campaign because of the continued distraction, the continued hurt caused on me and my family. not because we are not fighters, not because I'm not a fighter.


HANNITY: And joining me now right here in the studio for his very first interview since making that emotional announcement, the one and only Herman Cain. How are you?

CAIN: Hey, Sean. Happy to be here.

HANNITY: Good to see you.

CAIN: Thank you.

HANNITY: Seemed hard for you to do that.

CAIN: It was, and it was hard primarily because of all the supporters that I had gotten.


CAIN: I knew it was going to be very disappointing to a lot of people, and I personally was disappointed because we were making such great progress. But it boiled down to two words, family first. Because of the false accusations and the media -- not everybody, but some -- they continue to spin and spin and spin and re-spin.

HANNITY: It never went away.

CAIN: It never went away. And the other thing was I saw the pain that it was causing my wife and I wasn't going to let that happen. And so, it boiled down to family first. Now, here's another thing about my wife that a lot of people don't realize. Because some people are going to put the story out where she told him to drop out of the campaign. No, she didn't. My wife is not that type of a wife for 43 years. She was going to leave that decision to me. And before I got home that Friday night, we were going to talk about it, I called her Friday morning and said, sweetheart, I don't want this being done to you or the family anymore, I'm going to suspend this campaign.

HANNITY: Does suspend mean end?

CAIN: It means end. So, there's no --

HANNITY: No more campaign?

CAIN: There are no plans to re-emerge, and here's why. If I was to re-emerge, then the spin is going to start all over again. And that's what gets hurtful when your wife and your family have to continue to see the same false accusations spun over and over and over whenever someone does a story and they want to introduce you, they start off with the accusations. They were false accusations but they wouldn't go away. And here's the other point. We also knew that because somebody was so determined to knock me out of this race, that there were probably going to be some more down the road.

HANNITY: Who do you think is doing it?

CAIN: I really don't know who is doing it. I think it could be coming from both sides of the aisle, but I have no proof of that. But I'm convinced that the way it was done, the fact that they went after my character and they knew that it would hurt my family, and I simply wasn't going to do that and so that's why I made the decision.

HANNITY: You know, you have been adamant in your denials from the very beginning.

CAIN: Yes, yes.

HANNITY: So, you are saying that in America, a series of false charges can prevent someone from running for president.

CAIN: Yes, because of the court of public opinion.

HANNITY: Well, they sowed the seeds of doubt.

CAIN: They sowed the seeds of doubt and understandably a lot of supporters and a lot of people are going to still have that doubt. Now, most people that I have run into and most people that I have talked to, they said that they believe me, they don't believe it, and as more and more comes out about these accusers, they see that there's no way that they could be telling the truth relative to what they are accusing. But once you put that little cloud of doubt, and it grows, it started to show in the polling numbers, it started to show in the drop-off in contributions, but most importantly -- I could have lived with the drop in the poll numbers, we could have got that back up -- but it was the pain that it was causing to my wife and my family, and I said I will find another way.

You see, I ran for president in order to be able to try to change Washington D.C. from the inside. Our federal government is broken. All you have to do is look at what's gone on. So, I decided rather than have my wife and my family put through this, I am now going to change Washington D.C. from the outside with the backing of the American people.

HANNITY: You haven't given up on your desire?

CAIN: No, not at all.

HANNITY: The only -- when I last interviewed you, which was the Thursday before you made the announcement that weekend.

CAIN: Yes.

HANNITY: I said to you, Herman, isn't it easily provable. Hotel receipts, videos, you are out in public together.

CAIN: They don't exist.

HANNITY: I mean, airplane tickets.

CAIN: Sean, they don't exist.

HANNITY: They don't exist.

CAIN: They don't exist. How do you prove you didn't do something?

HANNITY: That's what I'm saying. And you said to me, there's no reason to play detective. Why would -- I don't know, I was trying to put myself in your shoes. I'm falsely accused, saying I'm falsely accused, why wouldn't you want to get and say, show me the airline ticket?

CAIN: Sean, without compromising anything that my attorney and I are working on, we are not done proving or demonstrating --

HANNITY: There will be more?

CAIN: There will be more. But for right now, I am going to still be a voice, a very strong voice on behalf of the people who got me this far, the people who got me to be in that final four, as I call it. And that is the people I am going to continue to be a voice, and we are going to talk about that --

HANNITY: Are you planning on making an endorsement for any of the remaining candidates in this race?

CAIN: I am in the process of making that evaluation. Remember, as a businessman, I don't shoot from the lip. And so, I have some discussions that I am going to have with several of the candidates and we've got have to see how far apart we are.

HANNITY: Who has sought your endorsement?

CAIN: Let's just say that several of them, we have talked.

HANNITY: Have all of them in sought your endorsement?

CAIN: Not all of them.

HANNITY: Many of them?

CAIN: Many of them have.

HANNITY: Have two of the top ones sought your endorsement?

CAIN: I have had initial conversations with two of the top ones.

HANNITY: You are tough.

CAIN: But here's the thing, you know. As a businessman I want to look at how far or how close we are on solutions, and ideas and this sort of thing. And I'm not going to do that quickly. I'm going to take my time in this issue.

HANNITY: What might be next for Herman Cain? Because I have no doubt that there is a TV-radio future if you wanted one.

CAIN: Right.

HANNITY: What would be the next step for you?

CAIN: Well, obviously the doors to radio or TV, those doors are open.

HANNITY: I already talked to the radio guys. That door is not only wide open, it's swung open, I won't say who PD is, but everybody else who knows it --

CAIN: Right. Right. So, I got to tell you, people that know me, they have been very gracious. What I'm doing over the next several days is considering all of these options because I want to create the biggest platform for me to continue to talk about the trifecta. Replacing the tax code with 9-9-9, energy independence and national security because this administration has weakened our military and that's not good for this country. Those are going to be the first three that I am going to be very vocal about all the way through this election and beyond.

HANNITY: All right. Now, Monday night you are going to be back on this program.

CAIN: Yes.

HANNITY: After the debate this weekend.

CAIN: Yes.

HANNITY: And we will get your analysis, having been there, and I look forward to seeing you on Monday.

CAIN: That would be fun.

HANNITY: Herman, we really appreciate it. Thanks so for being with us. It's great to see you again.

CAIN: Happy to do it.

HANNITY: And all the best. And I appreciate your time.

CAIN: I'll see you.

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