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Obituary: Herman Cain

Tea Party activist, presidential hopeful and co-chair of Black Voices for Trump contracted Covid-19 after rally in Tulsa

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Herman Cain

Herman Cain

AP

Herman Cain

Herman Cain, who has died from complications of Covid-19 aged 74, was an American businessman, radio host and politician who in 2012 embarked on an unsuccessful campaign to run for president, and went on to be one of Donald Trump's most enthusiastic supporters.

An activist for the Right-wing Tea Party, he announced his intention to run for the presidency in December 2010, and was an early favourite to secure the Republican nomination; he formally announced his candidacy in May the following year.

What one observer of the scene described as his "blunt, no-holds-barred style" went down well with the public, though he was seen as too far to the right to have a realistic chance of taking the White House.

His campaign gained a measure of traction with what he termed his "9-9-9 Plan", in which he advocated replacing the US tax code with a 9pc business transactions tax, a 9pc personal income tax and a 9pc federal sales tax. But his chances were fatally damaged by rumours of sexual misconduct.

In October 2011, a Politico report alleged that two female employees had made complaints about inappropriate behaviour by Cain while he was president and chief executive of the National Restaurant Association in the late 1990s. The women, the report said, had signed non-disclosure agreements that prevented them from saying any more.

Cain furiously denied the allegations, which he described as a "witch hunt", but more women came forward, and there were also reports that his campaign had been illegally funded by a tax-exempt charity, Prosperity USA, and in December 2011 he announced that he was standing down.

Herman Cain was born on December 13, 1945, in Memphis, Tennessee; his mother, Lenora (nee Davis) was a domestic cleaner, while his father Luther was a janitor and barber, and chauffeur to the president of Coca-Cola, Robert Woodruff.

He graduated in mathematics from Morehouse College in Atlanta and was awarded an MSc in Computer Science from Purdue University in 1971 while working as a civilian ballistics analyst for the US Navy.

He served in various capacities on the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, but resigned in 1996 to concentrate on politics.

He served as a senior economic adviser to Bob Dole's presidential campaign in 1996, and ran briefly in the race for the Republican nomination in 2000.

Cain was firmly on the Right of the Republican Party, opposing same-sex marriage and quota-style affirmative action, and supporting the war in Afghanistan. He also attracted adverse attention for Islamophobic remarks, and once said that he would not be happy appointing a Muslim to his administration or the judiciary.

He became a firm supporter of Donald Trump, and in April 2019 the president said he intended to nominate his friend to the Federal Reserve Board; even when his suitability was questioned due to the previous sexual misconduct allegations. Cain stated his determination to take up the offer, only to withdraw three weeks later, acknowledging that the nomination process would be "more cumbersome" for him due to his "unusual career".

He continued serving as co-chair of Black Voices for Trump, and on June 20 this year Cain attended a rally for Trump's re-election campaign in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which saw several Trump staff members test positive for coronavirus.

Early in July, he tested positive himself and was admitted to hospital.

Herman Cain married Gloria Etchison in 1968; she survives him with their two children.

Sunday Independent