For­mer GOP pres­i­den­tial hope­ful dies of COVID-19

Chicago Sun-Times - - NATION/WORLD / OBITUARIES -

AT­LANTA — Her­man Cain, for­mer Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date and for­mer CEO of a ma­jor pizza chain who went on to be­come an ar­dent sup­porter of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, has died of com­pli­ca­tions from the coro­n­avirus. He was 74.

A post on Mr. Cain’s Twit­ter ac­count Thurs­day an­nounced the death. He had been ill with the virus for sev­eral weeks.

It’s not clear when or where he was in­fected, but he was hos­pi­tal­ized less than two weeks af­ter at­tend­ing Trump’s cam­paign rally in Tulsa, Ok­la­homa, on June 20. A photo taken at the rally showed Mr. Cain, with­out a mask, sit­ting closely to other peo­ple who also were not wear­ing any face cov­er­ings.

Mr. Cain, who had hoped to be­come the first Black politi­cian to win the GOP nom­i­na­tion, was ini­tially con­sid­ered a long-shot can­di­date. His bid was pro­pelled for­ward in Septem­ber 2011 when he won a straw poll vote in Florida, in­stantly be­com­ing an al­ter­na­tive can­di­date for Repub­li­can vot­ers con­cerned that for­mer Mas­sachusetts Gov. Mitt Rom­ney was not con­ser­va­tive enough.

But Mr. Cain strug­gled to re­spond to ac­cu­sa­tions that he had sex­u­ally ha­rassed sev­eral women. There were also gaffes on abor­tion and tor­ture that led Mr. Cain’s crit­ics to ques­tion whether he was ready for the White House.

His run for the pres­i­dency was un­likely con­sid­er­ing his ori­gins. Born in the seg­re­gated South, his fa­ther worked three jobs as a jan­i­tor, bar­ber and chauf­feur, while his mother was a ser­vant. He grad­u­ated from More­house Col­lege, re­ceived a master’s de­gree from Pur­due Univer­sity and worked as a civil­ian math­e­ma­ti­cian in the U.S. Navy.

While it was a good job, Mr. Cain said his am­bi­tions were in the cor­po­rate world. He wanted to be pres­i­dent of “some­thing … some­where,” he later wrote.

He worked first for Coca-Cola, be­came a vice pres­i­dent with Pills­bury, then was ap­pointed to run its strug­gling Burger King unit in the Philadel­phia area. His suc­cess prompted Pills­bury of­fi­cials to ask Mr. Cain to take over its floun­der­ing God­fa­ther’s Pizza chain. Mr. Cain said he re­turned the fran­chise to prof­itabil­ity.

Her­man Cain

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