Ra­dio host Her­man Cain keeps can­cer, GOP in line

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Robert Stacy McCain

AT­LANTA — Her­man Cain laughs a lot, and he has lots to be happy about — in­clud­ing a suc­cess­ful busi­ness ca­reer and a pop­u­lar talk ra­dio show.

Inside the At­lanta stu­dios of WSB Ra­dio on a re­cent Satur­day, he told his lis­ten­ers about a lo­cal news­pa­per colum­nist who wrote that “be­ing a black Repub­li­can is not only oxy­moronic, it’s sim­ply plain old-fash­ioned mo­ronic” and sin­gled out Mr. Cain as a “to­ken” and a “sorry opportunist.”

“He for­got — I’ve got a ra­dio show,” Mr. Cain says as he is­sues an on-air chal­lenge for the colum­nist to call in, then goes to com­mer­cial, laugh­ing all the while.

Such cheer­ful­ness might seem sur­pris­ing for a man who, in March 2006, was di­ag­nosed with stage 4 colon can­cer that had spread to his liver. Af­ter two months of chemo­ther­apy, Mr. Cain un­der­went surgery in Au­gust — doc­tors re­moved one-third of his colon and 70 per­cent of his liver, he says — and then it was an­other two months of chemo­ther­apy. And he is laugh­ing. “Now you’re look­ing at a man who’s can­cer-free — and all my liver’s grown back,” says the 61year-old for­mer ex­ec­u­tive.

But don’t call him a “sur­vivor,” he says.

“I’m a win­ner,” says Mr. Cain, for­mer chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of the God­fa­ther’s Pizza chain.

A grad­u­ate of At­lanta’s More­house Col­lege, he worked for the De­part­ment of the Navy and Co­caCola be­fore join­ing the Pills­bury Co. in 1977. When Pills­bury ac­quired the Burger King restau­rant chain, he went to work man­ag­ing the chain’s op­er­a­tions in the Philadel­phia area.

His suc­cess with Burger King won him ap­point­ment in 1986 as pres­i­dent of God­fa­ther’s, an­other Pills­bury ac­qui­si­tion. He helped turn around the di­vi­sion and then led a man­age­ment team that bought the chain from Pills­bury.

Now re­tired from the restau­rant busi­ness, Mr. Cain keeps busy. He is a mem­ber of four cor­po­rate boards (in­clud­ing Hall­mark Cards and Whirlpool), a mem­ber of the More­house board of trustees, an au­thor and syn­di­cated colum­nist, a reg­u­lar guest on Fox News Chan­nel’s “Cost of Free­dom” busi­ness pro­gram and, most re­cently, a ra­dio talk-show host, fre­quently fill­ing in on At­lanta-based Neal Boortz’s syn­di­cated pro­gram as well as host­ing his own two-hour show each Satur­day.

Then there is pol­i­tics. In 2004, Mr. Cain sought the Se­nate seat va­cated by the re­tire­ment of Sen. Zell Miller, Ge­or­gia Demo­crat. In the Repub­li­can pri­mary, he placed sec­ond to Johnny Isak­son, who later won the Se­nate seat. But Mr. Cain’s out­spo­ken con­ser­vatism dur­ing the cam­paign won him many ad­mir­ers — in­clud­ing Mr. Miller, who wrote the fore­word to Mr. Cain’s 2005 book, “They Think You’re Stupid: How Democrats Lost Your Vote and What Repub­li­cans Must Do to Keep It.”

What Repub­li­cans have done lately doesn’t please Mr. Cain, who ex­presses the same frus­tra­tions that many other con­ser­va­tives have voiced about the party in re­cent years.

“They didn’t stick to prin­ci­ples,” he says, when asked why Repub­li­cans lost con­trol of Congress in the 2006 elec­tions. He crit­i­cizes Repub­li­cans in Wash­ing­ton for spend­ing ir­re­spon­si­bly, fail­ing to pass So­cial Se­cu­rity re­form and, es­pe­cially, not heed­ing their grass-roots sup­port­ers on im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy.

“They were not lis­ten­ing to peo­ple out­side Wash­ing­ton. If they would have lis­tened, they wouldn’t have lost,” says Mr. Cain, ex­plain­ing that he finds peo­ple are ea­ger to tell him their views on po­lit­i­cal is­sues.

“I’m like a walk­ing poll. [. . . ] It’s not sci­en­tific, but it’s pretty darned con­sis­tent,” he says of what he heard about im­mi­gra­tion last year. “Repub­li­cans were scream­ing, ‘Se­cure the borders first.’ ”

Repub­li­cans in Wash­ing­ton “are too afraid of their po­lit­i­cal shad­ows,” Mr. Cain says. He adds that many of his col­leagues on cor­po­rate boards are so “dis­gusted” with Repub­li­cans that they have stopped con­tribut­ing to the party, telling him: “When they start act­ing like Repub­li­cans, I’ll write some more checks.”

Con­sid­er­ing the party’s prospects in 2008, he asks, “Where’s the ex­cite­ment? Where’s the fun? There is none.”

Yet, Mr. Cain is clearly hav­ing lots of fun. He per­forms his twohour ra­dio show stand­ing up, and pro­vokes a re­ac­tion with his crit­i­cism of the Rev. Al Sharp­ton (“He gets away with in­cit­ing racial ten­sions, but doesn’t want to be held ac­count­able.”) and lib­er­als who, he says, use “name-call­ing [. . . ] to dis­cour­age black peo­ple from think­ing for them­selves.”

Soon, call­ers fill the phone lines, wait­ing to share their opin­ions with Mr. Cain, who keeps smil­ing and laugh­ing even when talk­ing with an­gry call­ers who dis­agree with him.

Mr. Cain is grate­ful for sim­ple plea­sures such as “watch­ing my grand­kids grow up,” he says, re­call­ing the months he spent in treat­ment af­ter his can­cer di­ag­no­sis.

“I was say­ing my prayers [. . . ] and I had a whole lot of peo­ple send­ing up prayers for me,” he says.

“You don’t stop liv­ing be­cause you’re fight­ing can­cer. [. . . ] If ev­ery­body stopped liv­ing be­cause they were fight­ing can­cer, one-third of the adult pop­u­la­tion would be sit­ting home wait­ing to die,” Mr. Cain says, adding that he has no in­ter­est in sit­ting around.

“Death’s go­ing to have to catch me, and it’s go­ing to have to run fast.”

William Kirby McCain / Spe­cial to The Wash­ing­ton Times

For­mer ex­ec­u­tive Her­man Cain ap­proaches his new gig — as a host on WSB Ra­dio in At­lanta — with the same joy that he brings to all parts of his life.

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