Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez cited the death of 2012 Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain to take a swing at President Donald Trump for continuing to hold campaign events amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Asked during an interview with Politico on Tuesday about Trump still holding political rallies, Perez pointed to a Tulsa event, which was attended by Cain, who died last month with COVID-19.
Perez said the rally “likely contributed” to a rise in new coronavirus cases, then added, “Was that a good model for how people should conduct themselves? Ask the family of Herman Cain.”
Cain, the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza who jumped into politics and ran for president three times, died after battling COVID-19 for nearly a month. He was 74.
Cain’s death was announced on his website, hermancain.com, by Dan Calabrese, who edits the site.
Calabrese said in a statement after Perez’s comments that Cain had “traveled extensively in the weeks prior to his infection, and could have been exposed on flights, in various hotels or any number of other places.”
“For Tom Perez to make the statement he made is a ghoulish attempt to exploit a man’s death for political advantage while pretending unconvincingly to care,” Calabrese said. “And the last thing Herman’s family needs is to be bothered with gratuitous nonsense like this while still grieving.”
The longtime aide praised Cain on the day of his death. “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. 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