WEST PALM BEACH (CBSMiami/AP) — There was a surprise announcement on the campaign trail in South Florida Saturday night when former presidential candidate Herman Cain officially endorsed Newt Gingrich for President.

Cain, a tea party favorite, endorsed Gingrich at a GOP fundraiser Saturday calling him “a patriot.”

“Speaker Gingrich is not afraid of bold ideas,” Cain said.

The former pizza executive, who left the race before the first nominating contests after facing accusations of unwanted sexual advances, suggested the two have both undergone intense scrutiny.

“I know that Speaker Gingrich is running for president and going through this sausage grinder,” Cain said. “I know what this sausage grinder is all about.”

Cain is set to campaign with Gingrich on Monday in an 11th hour push for support. Gingrich is in a fierce fight for Tuesday’s Florida’s GOP primary with Mitt Romney.

Gingrich on Saturday night said that, like Cain, he is running a campaign based on big ideas and bold solutions.

The decision was not unexpected but the announcement comes at a make or break moment. .

“I had it in my heart and mind a long time ago,” Cain said.

The timing is similar to a Saturday night surprise four years ago, when then-Florida Gov. Charlie Crist endorsed John McCain’s presidential bid.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry also endorsed Gingrich when he bowed out of the race in South Carolina.

Since exiting the race in December, Cain appeared at a rally in South Carolina with late-night comedian Stephen Colbert.

Cain, the charismatic former head of Godfather’s Pizza, briefly led in the polls in the fall. He became known for his signature 9-9-9 tax overhaul plan that would have scrapped the current tax code and replaced it with a 9 percent tax on individual income and corporate taxes as well as a new 9 percent national sales tax.

But his support plummeted after accusations that he sexually harassed women more than a decade ago when he led the National Restaurant Association. An Atlanta-area woman then stepped forward and said she had a lengthy sexual affair with Cain.

He denied the affair and any wrongdoing but withdrew from the race saying the accusations had become distracting and he needed to focus on his family.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (2)
  1. June Gravley says:

    Why? Geez – I really supported Mr. Cain, but I now believe it was a good thing he
    dropped out. What a disappointment. I wouldn’t vote for Gingrich for dog catcher
    let alone to lead our country.

  2. tom says:

    As a support of yours when you were in the race I am disappointed that you would support canidate that from the “Old Guard” and has a track record for big gov. Yes he has done some good things but he has expressed that the new people coming into the gov should be tought “how to get things done here” The person you supported has a track record of supporting big gov, bail out support and doing things the old way. I was looking for a new way and thought you had the gumshon to get it done.. (are you looking for a job in the gov if NEWT gets elected? We will see. (ps you can always say that you can do more good in the gov than out)