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Herman Cain, one-time Republican presidential candidate, dies from coronavirus

“We knew when he was first hospitalised with COVID-19 that this was going to be a rough fight,” an article posted on Cain’s Twitter account said.

“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.

“We’re heartbroken, and the world is poorer: Herman Cain has gone to be with the Lord.”

Cain didn’t know when or how he contracted the disease, the statement said.

He was diagnosed with the disease in late June, less than two weeks after the Tulsa rally, where many attendees crowded close together without wearing face masks. COVID-19 cases were rising in the Tulsa area at the time of the rally, prompting local officials to ask Trump to cancel the event.

“Trump Tulsa Rally – I was there! The atmosphere was exciting and inspiring!” Cain wrote on Twitter after the June 20 gathering. He also tweeted a photograph of himself there, not wearing a mask, in a group of other Trump fans who were also maskless.

Herman Cain, centre, tweeted this photograph of himself at the Trump rally in Tulsa last month.

Herman Cain, centre, tweeted this photograph of himself at the Trump rally in Tulsa last month.Credit:Twitter

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Twitter that Cain “embodied the American Dream and represented the very best of the American spirit”.

From pizza boss to presidential candidate

Cain spun his success in the pizza business and as a lobbyist, along with his charismatic personality, into a long-shot run for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. He was briefly the front-runner — before any votes were cast — on the strength of his tax plan.

He dropped out of the race after he was accused of sexual misconduct, a claim he denied, but his celebrity in conservative circles endured, and he became a steady ally of Trump.

“There are generally three kinds of people in the world. People who make things happen, people who watch things happen, and people who say, what in the heck happened,” Cain wrote in This is Herman Cain! My Journey to the White House.

Cain was working for Pillsbury’s restaurant and foods group in Minneapolis in the early 1980s when he was assigned to manage hundreds of Burger King sites in the Philadelphia area. The success of that venture led Pillsbury in 1986 to appoint Cain as president and chief executive officer of another division, the under-performing Godfather’s Pizza.

Cain swiftly returned Godfather’s to profitability and then helped engineer a leveraged buyout of the chain in 1988. He stayed with the company until 1996, when he moved to Washington as CEO of the National Restaurant Association, a lobbying and trade group. The stint with the association gave Cain valuable contacts in and around the political scene.

While his 2012 White House run captured national headlines, Cain also briefly ran for the 2000 Republican nomination, and for a US Senate seat in Georgia in 2004.

Herman Cain addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington in 2012.

Herman Cain addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington in 2012.Credit:AP

As a black man he was a rarity in the highest levels of the Republican Party, and his positions sometimes put him at odds with Democratic President Barack Obama.

“People who oppose Obama are said to be racists – so I guess I’m a racist,” Cain once said.

The 9-9-9 tax plan that propelled Cain to the top tier of 2012 candidates would have replaced the prevailing, endlessly complicated tax code with a 9 per cent business transactions tax, a 9 per cent personal income tax and a 9 per cent federal sales tax.

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“If 10 per cent is good enough for God, 9 per cent ought to be good enough for the federal government,” Cain said, referring to the tithe sometimes paid as a contribution to a religious organisation.

Cain dropped his White House bid in December 2011 after a woman, Ginger White, claimed to have had a 13-year affair with the married father of two.

Politico in October 2011 also reported that Cain had been accused by two women of sexual misconduct while at the National Restaurant Association in the late 1990s.

Last year, Cain withdrew his name as one of Trump’s picks for the Federal Reserve Board, following the re-emergence of accusations of sexual harassment.

AP, Bloomberg

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