Herman Cain: Former GOP Candidate, Pizza CEO Dies of COVID-19 Complications

Herman Cain

Getty/Daniel Boczarski Herman Cain, pictured in August 2016.

Former Republican presidential candidate and Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain has died of complications from coronavirus, a spokesman announced on his website Thursday morning, July 30.

“Herman Cain – our boss, our friend, like a father to so many of us — has passed away,” Dan Calabrese said. “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.”

Cain, 74, was a Stage 4 colon cancer survivor and had been in an Atlanta, Georgia, hospital after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this month.

Cain leaves behind his wife, Gloria Etchison; two children, Melanie and Vincent, and several grandchildren, Calabrese said.

Here’s what you need to know:


Cain’s Friends & Family ‘Knew It Was Going to Be a Rough Fight,’ Although There Was Hope

Just Monday, Cain’s representatives said that the former pizza magnate, presidential candidate and conservative commentator was being treated with oxygen, although his “other organs and systems [were] strong.”

“Re-strengthening the lungs is a long and slow process, and the doctors want to be thorough about it,” they said, later adding: “We’d like him to be able to come home now, which is frustrating, but we’re glad the doctors are being thorough and making sure they do the job right. Thank you for praying, everyone. Please keep doing it. He really is getting better, which means it is working.”

Earlier this month, Calabrese said Cain had “just begun the process of kicking COVID-19’s ass.”

Weeks before he tested positive, Cain had attended President Donald Trump’s largely maskless rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Heavy reported.

Calabrese, at the time, urged people not to speculate about whether he contracted the virus at the rally.

“We honestly have no idea where he contracted it,” Calabrese said. “I realized people will speculate about the Tulsa rally, but Herman did a lot of traveling the past week, including to Arizona, where cases are spiking. I don’t think there’s any way to trace this to the one specific contact that caused him to be infected. We’ll never know.”


Friends & Colleagues of Cain Remembered Him Online as a ‘Really Good Person Who Deeply Loved His Country With His Whole Heart’ & Urged People Not to Politicize His Death

Ellen Carmichael

Twitter/Ellen CarmichaelEllen Carmichael, Herman Cain’s former communications adviser, remembered her boss on Thursday,

Ellen Carmichael, Cain’s former communications adviser, acknowledged in a Twitter thread that some people tended to make Cain a “caricature” because of his outspoken, charismatic personality and 2012 Republican presidential primary run.

However, “He was a really good person. He really, really was,” she said. “And despite the challenges he faced in his life, he deeply loved his country with his whole heart. Please believe that.”

Carmichael told some of Cain’s life story — how his mother was a domestic worker and he overcame “absolute destitution” to become CEO of Godfather’s Pizza and chair a federal reserve bank. In addition to his career at Godfather’s, as well as his time on the political stage, Cain was a rocket scientist for the U.S. Department of the Navy. “Quite literally a rocket scientist,” she said.

Jay Sekulow, chief council for the American Center for Law and Justice and personal counsel to Trump, said, “Herman loved his country and was a defender of the freedoms that make this country great.”

Bakari Sellers, an author and CNN commentator, called Cain “a great man of Morehouse” — the college at which Cain obtained math and physics degrees, according to Carmichael.

Carmichael said she expected her former boss’ death to be politicized, but people who would do that “didn’t know him.”

“I’m bracing for the cruelty online about how he deserved to get COVID and die because of his politics,” she said. “We’re living in a dark time. But, they didn’t know him. I did.”


Cain Ran for President in 2012 on a Famed ‘9-9-9’ Tax Plan & Ran 1 of the Most Legendary Campaign Ads of Recent Years

Herman Cain voters

Getty/Joe RaedleHerman Cain greeted voters in a Little Havana restaurant in Miami during his campaign for the 2012 Republican Presidential Nomination.

Cain ran for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination — squaring off against 11 conservative superstars including Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich, the New York Times reported.

He was affiliated with the conservative Tea Party movement and campaigned on a so-called “9-9-9” tax plan that became a catchphrase of his and was often parodied.

Under his 9-9-9 Plan, all Americans, regardless of income level, would have paid a 9% income-tax rate, 9% value-added tax on business and a 9% national sales tax, Larry Kudlow, current director of the U.S. Economic Council wrote at the time in National Review.

Kudlow said Cain’s plan was “not perfect,” but “the good should never the enemy of the perfect.”

Economist Paul Krugman in the New York Times was more critical, writing that the plan amounted to a “huge tax hike for lower- and middle-income families, without, of course, the kind of benefits that European countries pay for with their VATs.”

And in October 2011, the campaign released a now-infamous ad that confused and delighted many politics-watchers.

Herman Cain Smoking AdDon't ever forget the ad of infamy.2011-10-28T05:01:42Z

In the ad, Cain adviser Mark Block extols Cain’s virtues, noting that he has had the “privilege” to be his chief of staff since January.

“I really believe Herman Cain will put the ‘United’ back in the United States of America, and if I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t be here,” Block says. “We’ve run a campaign like nobody’s ever seen. But then, America has never seen a candidate like Herman Cain.”

Then, the camera moves in close on Block as he takes a drag of a cigarette. The song “I Am America” by Krista Branch plays.

In summer 2012, Block explained that the ad was shot on the fly in Las Vegas after a debate, and Cain was supposed to star in it. When Cain was unavailable, Block read the lines, according to Business Insider.

“Never thought twice about the fact that I smoke,” Block said.

Cain at one point made it to second in the primary polls but suspended his campaign in December 2011, after a series of sexual harassment allegations went public and damaged his numbers, Fox News reported.

Cain appeared with his wife in Atlanta and insisted that all the allegations were false, but they “sidetracked and distracted” from the campaign and hurt his fundraising efforts.

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