Former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain has died from coronavirus, according to a post on his website. The businessman and right-wing media personality was 74 years old.
“Herman Cain – our boss, our friend, like a father to so many of us — has passed away,” Dan Calabrese, the editor for Cain’s website, wrote in a post on Thursday morning.
Cain was hospitalized with COVID-19 on June 29. Calabrese wrote that Cain knew “that this was going to be a rough fight” when he was first hospitalized, particularly since he had already survived a cancer diagnosis and was in a vulnerable demographic because of his age and health.
“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,” Calabrese wrote, adding that “we also felt real concern about the fact that he never quite seemed to get to the point where the doctors could advance him to the recovery phase.”
Although perhaps most famous for his 2011 presidential campaign, Cain had a long career as a prominent businessman. Cain received his undergraduate degree from Morehouse College and his graduate degree from Purdue University, and worked as a ballistic analyst for the U.S. Department of the Navy. He was a business executive at Burger King before he served as chairman and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza from 1986 to 1996. He also served as president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association from 1996 to 1999.
Cain became famous for his “9-9-9 plan,” a controversial proposal to replace the tax code with a 9% business transactions tax, a 9% personal income tax, and a 9% federal sales tax. Cain suspended his campaign in December 2011 after he was accused by several women of sexual harassment during his tenure as CEO of the National Restaurant Association. He denied all allegations.
He became a prominent figure in right-wing media after his campaign and had just started hosting a show on Newsmax TV before his death, according to Calabrese’s post, but he was only able to record one episode.
Cain attended President Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 20. The 2012 Republican presidential candidate posted a photo of himself and other rally attendees, none of whom were wearing masks. Although masks were provided to attendees at the rally, wearing them was not mandatory.
Trump campaign officials told CBS News that Cain sat with members of the president’s “Black Voices for Trump” advisory board, as seen in the photo he posted to Twitter, but he did not come into direct contact with Mr. Trump. The statement posted to Cain’s Twitter account upon his hospitalization said that “there is no way of knowing for sure how or where Mr. Cain contracted the coronavirus.” Calabrese also wrote in a column in early July that Cain had also traveled to Arizona, which is dealing with a serious outbreak, in the days after the rally.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement that 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,” McEnany said.
In a tweet commemorating Cain, Mr. Trump called him “a Powerful Voice of Freedom and all that is good.”
“Herman had an incredible career and was adored by everyone that ever met him, especially me. He was a very special man, an American Patriot, and great friend,” Mr. Trump wrote.
Cain is survived by his wife Gloria, his children Melanie and Vincent, and several grandchildren, according to Calabrese’s post on Thursday.
“I’m sorry I had to bring you bad news this morning. But the good news is that we had a man so good, so solid, so full of love and faith…that his death hits us this hard. Thank God for a man like that,” Calabrese wrote.
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