Herman Cain, a former pizza mogul who gained brief fame in 2012 with a quixotic run for the presidency, died Thursday from the coronavirus at the age of 74.
He died in the Atlanta-area hospital where he was admitted July 1, two days after he was diagnosed with Covid-19. Cain attended a closed arena rally for President Trump 10 days before being admitted to the hospital. Few wore masks or practiced social-distancing at the rally.
Cain, who grew up poor, made his biggest impact in the corporate world as CEO of Godfather’s Pizza from 1986-1996. He brought the company back to profitability by closing 200 restaurants and laying off several thousand workers. Prior to that, he was a regional vice president of Burger King.
Cain had an impressive academic background, graduating from Morehouse College with a mathematics degree and earning a master’s degree in computer science from Purdue University. He also served in the Navy.
Cain made his name in politics running for president as a conservative Republican in 2012. The core of his policy platform was his 9-9-9 tax reform plan. The idea was to replace the current progressive tax code with three flat taxes: 9% on business transactions, 9% on personal income and 9% on retail sales.
Mainstream economists laughed at the idea as a simplistic joke. But Donald Trump wasn’t turned off. Last year, he nominated Cain to the Federal Reserve Board. Again, mainstream economists and mainstream politicians alike dismissed him as an incompetent buffoon.
Cain withdrew his nomination before he could be rejected by the Senate.