Herman Cain died today of complications of COVID-19 after a long hospitalization. Cain, the long-shot candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, inspired the Tea Party generation of activists to stick firmly to principles, to persevere in the face of adversity, and to enjoy the entire process. Gone too soon at 74.
The announcement at Cain’s website has a few details about his illness, which seem unimportant now, but it gives this important note:
Herman had just started hosting a new show on Newsmax TV. He was so excited about it, and so pumped up about playing a role in the 2020 election campaign. At an age when a lot of people are looking to slow down, he was taking on new projects, booking speaking opportunities. Ever the dealmaker, he would fill me in with details of his negotiations with people on any number of things. I would always tell him I should have him negotiate my deals with my business’s other clients, because he did them better than anyone.
That’s the Herman Cain I knew, an inspiration for so many. His exuberance, his indefatigable nature, his zest. Herman Cain was the ultimate happy warrior.
Much more important than the details of his battle with coronavirus was the way Herman Cain lived his life, which was truly extraordinary. Again, from the announcement:
But there was so much more to him than the public saw, and certainly more than the media presented to you. Most people heard of Herman for the first time when he ran for president in 2011. What they didn’t know was his business background. They didn’t know how he had started his career as a civilian employee of the Navy. It was funny to us because sometimes political pundits portrayed him as kind of a goof – having no idea that during his time working for the Navy, he was literally a rocket scientist.
Many people don’t know about his years climbing the corporate ladder at Pillsbury, at Burger King and finally as CEO of Godfather’s Pizza. I will always remember the first time I became aware of him. It was 12 years before I worked with him for the first time. It was the now-famous encounter between Herman and Bill Clinton in which the boss schooled the president on the finer points of small-business finance, and I can’t describe it any better than I can just let you watch it:
I met Herman Cain several times along the campaign trail. He was always gracious with his time, genuinely engaging, and authentic. In politics, it can be impossible to find anyone who has true character. And what a character he was. He reminded me a lot of Andrew Breitbart–legitimately interested in everyone he spoke with, and genuinely concerned and willing to help.
Finally, I’ll leave you with this–Herman Cain singing his version of Amazing Grace for a friend’s birthday.
We should all hope to squeeze that much joy out of life.
Jeff Reynolds is the author of the book, “Behind the Curtain: Inside the Network of Progressive Billionaires and Their Campaign to Undermine Democracy,” available at www.WhoOwnsTheDems.com. Jeff hosts a podcast at anchor.fm/BehindTheCurtain. You can follow him on Twitter @ChargerJeff, and on Parler at @RealJeffReynolds.