Herman Cain, known for his work as the CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, a 2012 run for the GOP nomination for President, and a late career on conservative talk radio, died Thursday after being hospitalized since July 1 for the Coronavirus. He was 74.
An outspoken skeptic about the virus, Cain had attended President Donald Trump’s indoor campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma in mid-June, and soon after fell ill - but his social media accounts continued to attack Coronavirus critics.
“Masks will not be mandatory for the event, which will be attended by President Trump,” Cain tweeted about the President’s speech at Mt. Rushmore in early July, just before being hospitalized. “PEOPLE ARE FED UP!”
“I’m very saddened to learn of the passing of my former boss, Herman Cain,” said Ellen Carmichael, who was the communications director for Cain’s bid for President.
“I’m bracing for the cruelty online about how he deserved to get COVID and die because of his politics,” Carmichael tweeted soon after Cain’s death was announced.
It was not clear how Cain contracted the virus, but his presence at the Trump rally - not wearing a mask - was noted repeatedly in recent weeks.
In and around his forays into politics, Cain had become known on talk radio, working at WSB Radio in Atlanta, doing talk shows at night, and then replacing long time talk show host Neal Boortz.
"Herman Cain has succumbed to COVID-19," Boortz tweeted on Thursday morning. "My heart is broken."
My first memory of being on the air with Herman came in 2008, when he was hosting a talk show at night, and I was on the ground in Iowa.
After Boortz retired in early 2013, Cain continued on with his show for several more years, as I came on daily to talk with Herman about stories of note from Washington with Cain through 2016.
Cain put his radio career on hold to run for President in 2012, rocketing at one point to the top of the GOP field.
But just as quickly as he ascended the ladder, his campaign crashed down amid accusations of an extramarital affair.
Cain bitterly denied the charges, and blamed the media for dredging up untrue accusations against him.