Herman Cain, the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza who jumped into politics and ran for president three times, has died after battling COVID-19 for nearly a month. He was 74.
Cain’s death was announced Thursday on his website, hermancain.com, by Dan Calabrese, who edits the site. “Herman Cain – our boss, our friend, like a father to so many of us – has passed away,” Calabrese said in a blog post. “We all prayed so hard every day. We knew the time would come when the Lord would call him home, but we really liked having him here with us, and we held out hope he’d have a full recovery.”
“We knew when he was first hospitalized with COVID-19 that this was going to be a rough fight. He had trouble breathing and was taken to the hospital by ambulance. We all prayed that the initial meds they gave him would get his breathing back to normal, but it became clear pretty quickly that he was in for a battle,” the statement said.
The Republican had previously survived stage 4 colon cancer. Just last month, Cain attended Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, less than two weeks before receiving his diagnosis that he had contracted the virus.
On Monday, an update to his Twitter account said Cain “is still in the hospital being treated with oxygen for his lungs. In the meantime, the doctors say his other organs and systems are strong.”
“Re-strengthening the lungs is a long and slow process, and the doctors want to be thorough about it,” another tweet said. “He really is getting better, which means it is working.”
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany responded to the news of Cain’s death on Twitter. “Herman Cain embodied the American Dream and represented the very best of the American spirit. Our hearts grieve for his loved ones, and they will remain in our prayers at this time. We will never forget his legacy of grace, patriotism, and faith,” she wrote.
Herman Cain embodied the American Dream and represented the very best of the American spirit.
Our hearts grieve for his loved ones, and they will remain in our prayers at this time. We will never forget his legacy of grace, patriotism, and faith.
— Kayleigh McEnany (@PressSec) July 30, 2020
Cain made his name in the restaurant business, running the Godfather’s Pizza franchise from 1986 to 1996. He touted his business experience as a conservative presidential candidate who was briefly the Republican front runner in a packed 2012 primary field. But reports that he had sexually harassed several women around the time he led the National Restaurant Association from 1996 to 1999 and that he had an extramarital affair, led to him dropping out of the race. Cain repeatedly denied the allegations, and President Trump called them an “unfair witch hunt.”
Read Calabrese’s full post on hermancain.com below:
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. But we have no choice but to seek and find God’s strength and comfort to deal with it.
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 for, and preparing for his reward.
Romans 2:6-7 says: “God ‘will repay each person according to what they have done.’ To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.” By that measure, we expect the boss is in for some kind of welcome, because all of us who knew him are well aware of how much good he did.
Let me deal with some of the particulars of the last few weeks. We knew when he was first hospitalized with COVID-19 that this was going to be a rough fight. He had trouble breathing and was taken to the hospital by ambulance. We all prayed that the initial meds they gave him would get his breathing back to normal, but it became clear pretty quickly that he was in for a battle.
We didn’t release detailed updates on his condition to the public or to the media because neither his family nor we thought there was any reason for that. There were hopeful indicators, including a mere five days ago when doctors told us they thought he would eventually recover, although it wouldn’t be quick. We were relieved to be told that, and passed on the news via Herman’s social media. And yet we also felt real concern about the fact that he never quite seemed to get to the point where the doctors could advance him to the recovery phase.
Herman was 74. Although he was basically pretty healthy in recent years, he was still in a high-risk group because of his history with cancer. We all prayed so hard every day. We knew the time would come when the Lord would call him home, but we really liked having him here with us, and we held out hope he’d have a full recovery.
Herman had just started hosting a new show on Newsmax TV. He was so excited about it, and so pumped up about playing a role in the 2020 election campaign. At an age when a lot of people are looking to slow down, he was taking on new projects, booking speaking opportunities. Ever the dealmaker, he would fill me in with details of his negotiations with people on any number of things. I would always tell him I should have him negotiate my deals with my business’s other clients, because he did them better than anyone.
The last time I talked to him was when he was getting ready to start the Newsmax show. He was really pumped about it, and I was happy for him because he’d walked away from a nice contributor gig at Fox a couple years early to head a Super PAC. When that ran its course, Herman really wanted to get back into TV, and this afforded him a beautiful opportunity. Alas, he only ever got to host one episode.
But there was so much more to him than the public saw, and certainly more than the media presented to you. Most people heard of Herman for the first time when he ran for president in 2011. What they didn’t know was his business background. They didn’t know how he had started his career as a civilian employee of the Navy. It was funny to us because sometimes political pundits portrayed him as kind of a goof – having no idea that during his time working for the Navy, he was literally a rocket scientist.
Many people don’t know about his years climbing the corporate ladder at Pillsbury, at Burger King and finally as CEO of Godfather’s Pizza. I will always remember the first time I became aware of him. It was 12 years before I worked with him for the first time. It was the now-famous encounter between Herman and Bill Clinton in which the boss schooled the president on the finer points of small-business finance, and I can’t describe it any better than I can just let you watch it:
Herman could handle himself in a situation like that because he knew who he was, and he wasn’t intimidated by anyone, including the president of the United States.
When I launched the North Star Writers Group syndicate in 2005, I was looking for good writers and thinkers who were not signed to syndicates, and I was surprised to learn that Herman Cain – the guy who had schooled Bill Clinton on national TV – was a free agent. I tracked down contact information for him and told his office I would like to syndicate him. Two days later I had a signed contract, and it kicked off a 15-year professional relationship and friendship that I will treasure for the rest of my life.
It was only a few months later that he informed me of his cancer diagnosis, but he assured me he would continue writing his column every week. Even though I told him that was the last thing he needed to concern himself with, he did it. He never told me he would do something that he didn’t come through on.
In 2007, my business was struggling and I was having a hard time finding a direction for it. Herman welcomed me to come see him in Atlanta, and he spent an entire day with me going over the particulars of my business. Together we drew up an action plan, and he gave me some firm and pointed advice on some things I needed to do. This guy had helped lead some of the biggest companies in the world, and he could have charged massive consulting fees for this sort of thing. But he did it all for free, and he kept working with me over the years to make sure things stayed on the right track.
I haven’t even gotten into his experiences as what he called an ABC – an American Black Conservative – because his politics seems so low on the list of things I want to tell you about him right now. He was one of the most important figures to ever come into my life, and I can’t wrap my head, or my heart, around the fact that he’s gone. I don’t think I’ll be able to for a long time.
But I want you to understand just what our world has lost today. There aren’t many people like Herman Cain, and it behooves us to truly cherish the ones we’re given. His wife Gloria – his children Melanie and Vincent – and his grandchildren . . . they need our love, our support and our prayers. Nothing I talked about above meant as much to him as these wonderful people did, and because he loved them so much, we will continue to feel his impact on the world through them.
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.
Rest well in His presence, Boss. We love you.
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