Former GOP presidential hopeful dies of COVID-19
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.