Herman Cain (born December 13, 1945) is an American businessman, syndicated columnist, and radio host from Georgia. He is the former chairman and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza and a former deputy chairman (1992–94) and chairman (1995–96) of the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.Before his business career he worked as a mathematician in ballistics as a civilian employee of the United States Navy. He lives in the Atlanta suburbs, where he also serves as an associate minister at Antioch Baptist Church North. In January 2011, Cain announced he had formed an exploratory committee for a potential presidential campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, and on May 21, 2011, Cain officially announced his candidacy. In September 2011, Cain won a Republican presidential straw poll in Florida, beating rival Rick Perry, who was leading in the polls.
Herman Cain was born in Memphis, Tennessee, to Luther Cain, Jr., who was raised on a farm and worked as a chauffeur, barber and janitor and Lenora Caine (née Davis), a cleaning woman. Cain has said that as he was growing up that his family was “poor” but “happy”. Cain related that his mother taught him about her belief that “success was not a function of what you start out with materially, but what you start out with spiritually”. His father worked three jobs to own his own home – something he achieved during Cain’s childhood – and to see his two sons graduate.
He grew up in Georgia and graduated from Morehouse College in 1967 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics. Cain married Gloria Etchison, of Atlanta, soon after her graduation from Morris Brown College in 1968. Cain, accepted for graduate studies at Purdue, received a Masters in computer science there in 1971,while he also worked full-time in ballistics for the U.S. Department of the Navy. After completing his master’s degree from Purdue, Cain left the Department of the Navy and began working for The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta as a computer systems analyst. In 1977, he moved to Minneapolis to join Pillsbury, soon becoming director of business analysis in its restaurant and foods group in 1978.
At age 36, Cain was assigned in the 1980s first to analyze and ultimately to take the reins of Burger King, which at the time was a Pillsbury subsidiary, where he managed 400 stores in the Philadelphia area. Under Cain’s leadership, his region went in three years from the least profitable for Burger King to the most profitable. According to a 1987 account in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Pillsbury’s then-president Win Wallin said: “He was an excellent bet. Herman always seemed to have his act together.”At Burger King, Cain “established the BEAMER program, which taught our employees, mostly teenagers, how to make our patrons smile” by smiling themselves. It was a success: “Within three months of the program’s initiation, the sales trend was moving steadily higher.”
His successes at Burger King prompted Pillsbury to appoint him President and CEO of another subsidiary, Godfather’s Pizza. Cain arrived on April 1, 1986, and told employees that, “I’m Herman Cain and this ain’t no April Fool’s joke. We are not dead. Our objective is to prove to Pillsbury and everyone else that we will survive.” Aiming to cut costs, Cain, over a 14-month period, reduced the company from 911 stores to 420. As a result of his efforts, Godfather’s Pizza became profitable. In a leveraged buyout in 1988, Cain, Executive Vice-President and COO Ronald B. Gartlan and a group of investors, bought Godfather’s from Pillsbury. Cain continued as CEO until 1996, when he resigned.
Later in 1996 he became CEO of the National Restaurant Association, a trade group and lobby organization for the restaurant industry, where he had previously been chairman concurrently with his role at Godfather’s Pizza. Cain became a member of the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in 1992 and served as its chairman from January 1995 to August 1996, when he resigned to become active in national politics. Cain was a 1996 recipient of the Horatio Alger Award. Cain was on the board of directors of Aquila, Inc. from 1992 to 2008, and also served as a board member for Nabisco, Whirlpool, Reader’s Digest, and AGCO, Inc.
Cain serves as a commentator for Fox Business. He writes a syndicated op-ed column, which is distributed by the North Star Writers Group. Until February 2011, Cain hosted The Herman Cain Show on Atlanta talk radio station News Talk 750 WSB, a Cox Radio affiliate. In 2009, Cain founded “Hermanator’s Intelligent Thinkers Movement” (HITM), aimed at organizing 100,000 activists in every congressional district in the United States in support of a strong national defense, the FairTax, tax cuts, energy independence, capping government spending, and restructuring Social Security.
Cain publicly opposed the 1993/1994 health care plan of President Bill Clinton. As president-elect of the National Restaurant Association, he challenged Bill Clinton on the costs of the employer mandate contained within the bill and criticized its effect on small businesses. Bob Cohn of Newsweek described Cain as one of the primary opponents of the plan:
The Clintons would later blame “Harry and Louise,” the fictional couple in the ads aired by the insurance industry, for undermining health reform. But the real saboteurs are named Herman and John. Herman Cain is the president of Godfather’s Pizza and president-elect of the National Restaurant Association. An articulate entrepreneur, Cain transformed the debate when he challenged Clinton at a town meeting in Kansas City, Mo.. Cain asked the president what he was supposed to say to the workers he would have to lay off because of the cost of the “employer mandate.” Clinton responded that there would be plenty of subsidies for small businessmen, but Cain persisted. “Quite honestly, your calculation is inaccurate,” he told the president. “In the competitive marketplace it simply doesn’t work that way.”
Joshua Green of The Atlantic has called Cain’s exchange with Clinton his “auspicious debut on the national political stage.” Conservative politician and former Housing Secretary, Jack Kemp was so impressed with Cain’s performance that he chartered a plane to Nebraska to meet Cain after the debate. Cain credits Kemp with his becoming interested in politics.
Cain was a senior economic advisor to the Dole/Kemp presidential campaign in 1996.Cain briefly ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000; he says it was more about making political statements than winning the nomination. “George W. Bush was the chosen one, he had the campaign DNA that followers look for.” However, Cain went on to state, “I believe that I had a better message and I believe that I was the better messenger.”After ending his own campaign, however, he endorsed Steve Forbes.
In 2004, Cain ran for the U.S. Senate in Georgia, pursuing the seat that came open with the retirement of Democrat Zell Miller. Cain sought the Republican nomination, facing congressmen Johnny Isakson and Mac Collins in the primary. Cain and Collins both hoped to deny Isakson a majority on primary day in order to force him into a runoff. Collins tried to paint Cain as a moderate,citing Cain’s support for affirmative action programs, while Cain argued that he was a conservative, noting that he opposed the legality of abortion except when the mother’s life is threatened. Cain finished second in the primary with 26.2% of the vote, ahead of Collins, who won 20.6%, but because Isakson won 53.2% of the vote, Isakson was able to avoid a runoff.
Cain is the recipient of eight honorary degrees from Creighton University, Johnson & Wales University, Morehouse College, University of Nebraska, New York City Technical College, Purdue University, Suffolk University, and Tougaloo College.
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