Herman Cain, the one-time Republican presidential candidate and prominent businessman, has died a month after he was hospitalized with COVID-19.
“We knew when he was first hospitalized with COVID-19 that this was going to be a rough fight,” a post on his website said Thursday. “He had trouble breathing and was taken to the hospital by ambulance. 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.”
The post said there were “hopeful indicators, including a mere five days ago when doctors told us they thought he would eventually recover, although it wouldn’t be quick.”
However, he “never quite seemed to get to the point where the doctors could advance him to the recovery phase.”
An earlier post on Cain’s website said it wasn’t clear how or when the former chief executive of Godfather’s Pizza contracted the virus.
Cain was 74. He had been “pretty healthy” in recent years, the post said. However, he was considered at higher risk for severe coronavirus complications due to his history of colon and liver cancer in 2006.
The author and media commentator had just started hosting a show on Newsmax TV and was ramping up media engagements in the lead-up to the 2020 election.
Cain had attended President Donald Trump’s indoor campaign rally in Tulsa on June 20, at which crowds were smaller than expected but face masks were not compulsory.
Cain tested positive for coronavirus on June 29 and was hospitalized on July 2. At the time, a statement on his Twitter account said he was “resting comfortably in an Atlanta-area hospital.”
Photos of Cain from the rally show him not wearing a face mask, however, he said in a video on his website that he’d worn one while in large groups. He said that everyone at the rally had their temperatures checked and hand sanitizer was distributed.
He predicted that “even though it was a crowded room of people, if they took precautions, [there is] probably not going to be a big uptick.”
The Trump campaign disclosed a few hours before the rally that six staffers had tested positive during routine screening. Two Secret Service officers also tested positive.
A July 2 post on Cain’s website announcing his positive coronavirus test result, written by Dan Calabrese, said, “I realize people will speculate about the Tulsa rally, but Herman did a lot of traveling the past week. 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.”
Prominent Republicans—including the president—have continually downplayed the virus, pushed for the country to reopen and questioned the need for face masks and social distancing. But Republicans have not been spared of the most severe health impacts of the virus either.
On Wednesday, Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX), who had made a point of not wearing a face mask while in the Capitol, announced he’d tested positive—the same day the co-founder of conservative student group Turning Point USA died from coronavirus complications. Six other Republican members of congress have tested positive, as well as several members of Trump and Vice President Mike Pence’s inner circle.
Cain rose the corporate ladder in the 1980s, serving as an executive at Burger King, the chairman and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza and then working for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in the 1990s. He worked for Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign before having his own tilt at the top job in 2011.
Cain’s impressive debate performances and his centerpiece 9-9-9 tax plan—a proposal to replace all taxes with a 9 percent income tax, federal sales tax, and corporate tax—made him a legitimate 2012 contender. However, he suspended his campaign when allegations of sexual misconduct emerged.
He remained a prominent Republican voice, and one of few African-American public figures to support President Trump. In turn, Trump said he intended to nominate Cain to one of two vacant seats on the Federal Reserve Board in mid-2019. But, amid renewed scrutiny of the sexual-misconduct allegations, Cain withdrew when it looked like he didn’t have enough votes to support his confirmation.
Cain is survived by his wife Gloria, children Melanie and Vincent, and several grandchildren.