Earlier this year when potential Republican presidential candidates were deciding whether to run, you'd hear a common excuse from those who chose not to: My wife didn't want me to!

Haley Barbour and John Thune's wives, to name a couple, were reportedly hesitant to lose their privacy and have their lives ruined on the presidential campaign circuit. And when Barbour and Thune announced their decisions, they hardly went out of their way to deny stories blaming their wives' anxieties as the principal determining factor.

Even more egregious was Mitch Daniels' explanation for not running, in which he blamed his family's "women's caucus" for its "veto":

"The answer is that I will not be a candidate," Daniels told the Star. "What could have been a complicated decision was in the end very simple: on matters affecting us all, our family constitution gives a veto to the women's caucus, and there is no override provision. Simply put, I find myself caught between two duties. I love my country; I love my family more."

In other words: I really, really wanted to do this, and I know that you all wanted me to, but what can I say? The wife wouldn't let me.

Did they mean to leave their spouses holding the bag of shit when their disappointed supporters came looking for answers? They probably didn't even notice.

And here we are a few months later, faced with the prospect of Herman Cain ending his campaign at a press conference tomorrow after months of pathetic mismanagement, carelessness, and an inability to deal with disgusting revelations from his past. If he drops out, then he should assume 100% of the blame for his shitty, incompetent candidacy. But he just might find a way to pin that blame on dearest Gloria Cain yet.

The New York Times describes, in a post titled "Wife's Word to Decide Cain Campaign's Fate," how Cain is determined to stay in the race and not let a media smear campaign force him out — how very principled! — but his wife might force him to do it anyway:

After weeks of Herman Cain asserting his innocence in the face of multiple accusations of sexual improprieties, including a 13-year affair, and his adamant insistence that he would not quit the race for the Republican presidential nomination, the fate of his unlikely journey now rests, he says, with one woman in suburban Atlanta: his wife of 43 years, Gloria Cain.

The least visible of all the spouses in the Republican field, Mrs. Cain, 65, made no secret of the fact that she hoped to have no public role whatsoever in her husband's quest for the nomination. But now, in a dramatic reversal, she is, in effect, the "decider." If Mr. Cain is to be believed, the fate of his campaign rests entirely with her.

"If my wife says terminate the campaign, would I quit? Yes," he told Fox News on Thursday night.

No pressure, Gloria! And the unabridged version of that last quote is much worse: "If my wife says, you know, terminate the campaign, would I quit? The answer is, yes, but she wouldn't do that. That's not the kind of wife I have. My wife has been supportive of me, she is with me." An excellent means of inducing a guilt trip, there. Is there any way he can make the spotlight on Gloria Cain shine a little brighter? He'll figure it out.

Cain also, as we noted earlier, has set up a page on his campaign site for supporters to publicly beg him not to drop out. Was the plan to print these out and dump them on his wife's lap during their meeting today?

It really is the most disciplined messaging effort that Herman Cain has made this year, with this attempt to place the onus on his shy wife. NBC News' Andrew Rafferty tweeted the most skeletal iteration in this narrative earlier today: "In scrum after event, Cain asked by reporter if he's dropping out. All I could make out in short answer was 'wife.'" Wife! Wife! The wife!

It's just not very mature.

[Image via AP]