Who is Herman Cain?

Who Is Herman Cain?

Herman Cain is a former fast-food chain executive who was a 2012 presidential nominee for the Republican party. Cain’s story is one of rags to riches as he was born poor in Atlanta, Georgia.

Early Life

Herman Cain was born December 13, 1954, to Luther Davis Cain, Jr. and his wife, Lenora Davis Cain. His father was raised on a farm and held several jobs, including barber and janitor. He also worked as the chauffer for Coca-Cola Company president, Robert W. Woodruff. His mother was a cleaning woman who taught him at a young age that success was not based on how you started out materially, but how you started out spiritually. Cain’s father worked three jobs in order to purchase the family home and to see his two sons graduate. Cain has said that he grew up “poor but happy.” Cain attended the Antioch Baptist Church and, after his father purchased a home on Albert Street, he attended Archer High School, earning his high school diploma in 1963.


Cain’s parents stressed the importance of education and he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Morehouse College in 1967. He was accepted at Purdue University for graduate studies, earning a master’s degree in computer science in 1971. While attending graduate school, Cain worked full-time as a civilian ballistics analyst for the Department of the Navy, helping to design fire control systems.


Cain left the Department of the Navy, accepting a position with Coca-Cola as a computer systems analyst in Atlanta. In 1977, he transferred to Pillsbury in Minneapolis, soon becoming the Director of Business Analysis in the company’s Restaurant and Foods Group. In the 1980s, Cain was assigned the task of analyzing and managing 400 Burger King restaurants, which were a Pillsbury subsidy, in Philadelphia. There, he established the BEAMER Program, an initiative that taught employees to smile, thereby encouraging patrons to smile, causing sales in the region to increase. His success with Burger King prompted Pillsbury to appoint him as President and CEO of another subsidy, Godfather’s Pizza, which was performing poorly. Under his leadership, approximately 200 restaurants were closed, increasing profits. Cain and a group of investors purchased Godfather’s Pizza from Pillsbury in 1988. In 1996, Caine left Godfather’s Pizza to take a position in Washington, D.C. as the CEO of the National Restaurant Association.

Political Career

While leading the National Restaurant Association, Cain was known to be blunt and outspoken. His challenge of President Bill Clinton on healthcare reform was televised and he publicly criticized First Lady Hillary Clinton’s healthcare reform plans, believing it would have a negative impact on business. In 2004, he ran for a seat in the Georgia Senate but lost to Johnny Isakson. After a short run for president in 2000, Cain again ran for the White House in 2012. Throughout 2010, Cain appeared at many Tea Party rallies and became a YouTube sensation. During his presidential campaign, Cain promoted what he called the “9-9-9 Plan.” The plan proposed eliminating the current tax code and replacing it with a 9 percent business transactions tax, a nine percent personal income tax and a nine percent federal sales tax. After allegations were made regarding sexual harassment and adultery, Cain suspended his presidential run.

Solutions Revolution

In 2012, Cain announced a new movement that he called “Cain’s Solutions Revolution,” aimed at keeping the “9-9-9 Plan” alive. He was chosen by Tea Party Express to give a response to President Barack Obama’s 2012 State of the Union address. After the election of President Obama in 2012, Cain called for the creation of a third party, stating that the Republican party no longer represented the interests of conservatives.

Personal Life

In 1968, soon after she graduated from Morris Brown College, Cain married Gloria Etchison. His wife worked as a teacher and librarian before becoming a homemaker, raising their two children. The couple also have several grandchildren. In 2006, Caine was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer that had metastasized to his liver. He was given a 30 percent chance of survival, but underwent chemotherapy and surgery. He now reports that his disease is in remission. He is an associate minister at the Antioch Baptist Church and once recorded his own album of religious songs. An avid fan of gospel music, Cain also hosts his own Atlanta radio show and is the author of several books. During his 2012 presidential campaign, financial disclosures indicated that Cain’s worth was between $2.9 and $6.6 million. During 2010 and 2011, it was reported that Cain’s income was between $1.1 and $2.1 million.

Herman Cain won over many supporters during his presidential campaign due to his direct, blunt approach to reforming the federal government. His sense of humor was not always well accepted however, particularly when he joked about building an electrified fence on the United States border. He was also criticized for being unable to pronounce “Uzbekistan” and not knowing who the leader of that country was. Cain felt that domestic issues were more important than foreign policy and brushed off critics who claimed he was too inexperienced to handle affairs outside the United States.