Herman Cain, the former Republican presidential candidate and pizza chain executive who was one of Donald Trump’s most prominent black supporters, has died after being hospitalised for coronavirus.
Dan Calabrese, editor of Cain’s website, confirmed his death on Thursday, saying the conservative businessman had gone into hospital for Covid-19 earlier this month, after having trouble breathing.
Cain, 74, had been diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer in 2006, which Mr Calabrese said put him at “high risk” for complications from coronavirus.
“We all prayed so hard every day,” Mr Calabrese said. “We knew the time would come when the Lord would call him home, but we really liked having him here with us, and we held out hope he’d have a full recovery.”
Cain was diagnosed with coronavirus less than two weeks after he attended Mr Trump’s re-election rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 20. Most attendees did not appear to be wearing masks or facial coverings at the rally, which was held indoors, at a local arena.
Mr Trump did not immediately comment on Cain’s death.
Kayleigh McEnany, White House press secretary, said on Twitter: “Herman Cain embodied the American dream and represented the very best of the American spirit.
“Our hearts grieve for his loved ones, and they will remain in our prayers at this time,” she added. “We will never forget his legacy of grace, patriotism, and faith.”
Herman Cain was born on December 13, 1945 in Memphis, Tennessee, and grew up in a working class family in Atlanta, Georgia. He graduated from Morehouse College, a historically black men’s college in Atlanta, and received a masters in computer science from Purdue University.
Cain worked for Coca-Cola and Pillsbury, where he managed hundreds of Burger King branches and was promoted to chief executive of Godfather’s Pizza, another fast-food chain.
He was deputy chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City from 1992 until 1994, before becoming chairman. He stepped down from that position in 1996 in order to take a more active role in national politics.
Cain was active in the fiscally conservative Tea Party movement, and ran for president in 2012 on a “9-9-9” plan that would have scrapped the existing US tax system in favour of a flat 9 per cent rate for personal income tax, federal sales tax and corporation tax. He suspended his presidential campaign following multiple allegations of sexual harassment, which he said were false.
Last year, Mr Trump said he planned to nominate Cain, who supported a return to the gold standard, for a spot on the Federal Reserve board. But Cain asked for his name to be withdrawn from consideration after multiple Republican senators said they would not support his nomination.
Cain, a co-chair of the Black Voices for Trump committee supporting Mr Trump’s presidential campaign, hosted radio and television programmes on and off throughout his career. He joined Newsmax, the conservative cable TV station, three months before his death.
Nearly 143,000 people have died from coronavirus in the US, while the case count has approached 4.39m, according to the Covid Tracking Project.