Herman Cain, a businessman and author who gained national attention during his run for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, died July 30, 2020, in an Atlanta hospital. Cain was hospitalized July 1, after testing positive for COVID-19 and having trouble breathing.
Dan Calabrese, the editor of Cain’s website, HermanCain.com, wrote an article expressing his grief at Cain’s death, “We’re heartbroken, and the world is poorer: Herman Cain has gone to be with the Lord.”
“You’re never ready for the kind of news we are grappling with this morning,” Calabrese wrote, “But we have no choice but to seek and find God’s strength and comfort to deal with it.”
Calabrese said, “Herman Cain – our boss, our friend, like a father to so many of us – has passed away. He’s entering the presence of the Savior he’s served as an associate minister at Antioch Baptist Church in Atlanta, and preparing for his reward.”
Cain was born in Tennessee in 1945 and grew up in Atlanta. In 2011, the International Business Times reported that Cain, “an African-American and self-made man, embodies the American dream.”
In describing his father, Luther Cain, Herman said, “My father never looked for a government program, a government handout. I never heard my father complain about somebody owing him anything. All I ever saw was how hard my father worked to get what he wanted out of life.” Cain said his mother “talked to me about God” and taught him “that success was not a function of what you start out with materially, but what you start out with spiritually.”
Cain graduated from Morehouse College, a historically black men’s college, with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. After graduating, Cain worked as a ballistics analyst with the Navy, while earning a master’s degree in computer science at Purdue University.
Cain left that job to work as a computer systems analyst for The Coca-Cola Company until he was hired by The Pillsbury Company, where he “turned around 400 Burger King stores in the Philadelphia region from the least profitable in the company to the most profitable.” Following that success, he helped save Godfather’s Pizza from bankruptcy, bringing the restaurant chain back to profitability. While with Godfather’s, he served on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
Cain left Pillsbury to be the CEO of the National Restaurant Association and then to serve on the boards of companies like Nabisco, Whirlpool and Reader’s Digest. He wrote books on leadership, such as Speak as a Leader and Leadership is Common Sense. He began writing a syndicated opinion column in 2005.
Cain’s involvement in politics began in 1994, when he played a key role in defeating Bill Clinton’s health care plan, which was developed and spearheaded by first lady Hillary Clinton. Cain challenged the plan at a town meeting, telling the president, “For many, many businesses like mine, the cost of your plan is simply a cost that will cause us to eliminate jobs. …My question is quite simply, if I’m forced to do this, what will I tell those people whose jobs I will have to eliminate?”
Former Congressman Jack Kemp was impressed by Cain and appointed him to the Kemp Commission on tax reform. In 1996, Cain served as an advisor to Senator Bob Dole’s campaign for president. Cain ran a brief campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, and an unsuccessful campaign for the Senate in 2004.
As the Tea Party movement formed in 2009, calling for smaller government, lower taxes, and lowering the federal budget, Cain was prominent within the movement, speaking at many rallies.
But Cain catapulted to the forefront of American awareness in 2011 when he launched a campaign for the Republican nomination for the presidency. Cain published an autobiography in 2011, This is Herman Cain! The next year, to explain his “9-9-9” tax plan, he wrote 9-9-9, An Army of Davids. The proposal would have replaced the current tax code with a 9-percent personal income tax, a 9% federal sales tax and a 9% business tax.
Cain jumped into a tie with Mitt Romney for first place after the first six Republican debates. But his presidential campaign was suspended when Cain was accused of sexual harassment. His wife, Gloria, defended him in an interview with Fox News, saying, “Who are these people talking about? This isn’t Herman. …And I know the person that he is.
Gloria Cain added that the couple had been married for 43 years, and said, “I know Herman Cain and I know he has — he has always had too much respect for women to treat them in any type of negative way. That wasn’t a part of his being.” Herman and Gloria celebrated 52 years of marriage on June 23, 2020.
Cain joined the Antioch Baptist Church North, in Atlanta, when he was ten years old and told CBN News, “I’ve been in the church all my life. When I moved around in my corporate career, I always stayed involved in the church.”
He described for CBN the ordeal of going through chemotherapy and the removal of part of his colon and liver, after being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in 2006. He said, “I only had a 30 percent chance of survival. God said ‘Herman, not yet,’” adding that God gave him signs along the way “that let me know that He was with me.”
Cain told the reporter, “I firmly believe that God kept me for a reason much bigger than I ever would have dreamed or imagined. Whether that is ultimately to become the President of the United States or not, I don’t know. I just know at this point I am following God’s plan.”
In delivering the news about Cain’s death, Calabrese wrote “I’m sorry I had to bring you bad news this morning. But the good news is that we had a man so good, so solid, so full of love and faith . . . that his death hits us this hard. Thank God for a man like that.”
Herman Cain is survived by his wife, Gloria; two children, Melanie and Vincent; and his grandchildren.
Photo from REUTERS
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