WASHINGTON — The cruelest pandemic in one-hundred years claimed another beloved man. Herman Cain succumbed to the COVID-19 Coronavirus at the far too young age of 74.
Mr. Cain was more than just a successful businessman who turned losing businesses into winners. He was more than just an adored radio host. He was more than just an American success story, a poor Atlanta boy who achieved the American Dream.
He was more than just the first black Republican to briefly lead an American presidential race.
He was a friendly, kind man who radiated joy to everyone who encountered him. He was hysterically funny. Let us not regurgitate what many people already know about him. My own personal interactions with him deserve to be shared with the world.
To the lives he touched, calling him Mr. Cain is far too cold and distant.
He was Herman.
In the early days of the Tea Party movement, Herman was the keynote speaker at an April 15th anti-tax rally in Minnesota. A torrential rainstorm drenched the crowd and made life difficult for the speakers and impossible for the vendors. As one of the warmup speakers, it was an honor to share a stage with Herman. Our cars were parked next to each other, and we spent most of the event in them to avoid getting even more soaked.
We had matching black fedoras and umbrellas, which Herman noted. Every few minutes, we would roll down our respective windows and see if the rain had let up. We would smile, laugh, wave to each other, and then roll the windows back up. The rain never relented, but neither did Herman’s sunny optimistic spirit.
More than 700 people stayed through his entire rain-soaked remarks.
Later that night, I had the honor of introducing him at another event which was thankfully indoors. Herman was a legitimate presidential contender, but he never took himself too seriously. After quickly rattling off some of his many achievements, it was time for a gentle roast that led to a friendship.
“Everybody, I had a private conversation with Herman today as we both encountered the beautiful rebirth of Noah’s Ark. I told him, ‘Herman, you’re a good man but America is not ready for you yet. We are not there yet.’ Herman looked at me and asked, ‘Eric what do you have against black Republicans?’ I looked at Herman with shock and surprise and said, ‘black Republicans? I was talking about the follicely challenged. Herman, you don’t have a chance against Mitt Romney. Look at that man’s hair. I’m sorry Herman, but the Cain train needs Rogaine!’”
The crowd laughed heartily, and Herman was more than a good sport. He gave as great as he got. He began his keynote speech with his own humor.
“Eric, thank you for that wonderful introduction. Yes, I am follically challenged. I had a conversation with Tim Scott of South Carolina, who is also follically challenged. Eric, if either of us become Vice President or Defense Secretary, we will have access to predator drones and we will know where to find you.”
Herman gave me a giant hug after his remarks. A friendship was born.
Every time I saw Herman, he would point to his own head as a joking reminder of our interaction. He was worth millions of dollars. I had millions of follicles. He was not willing to trade.
We encountered each other many times at various political functions. Even as his star skyrocketed, he took the time to chat with everybody who approached him. He never forgot his humble roots, and he always maintained his sense of humor.
At one convention he was holding court with about 10 young conservatives. Herman was mentioning one particular liberal media reporter who gave him brutally unflattering coverage. Herman said,
“…and everything was going fine until this a-hole…”
Herman did not realize that he was pointing his finger while he was speaking, and he was pointing it right at me. I was standing next to him, and was in the wrong place. I said,
“Hey!” Herman laughed and replied, “not you Eric, a different a-hole!”
Again there was laughter, and Herman gave me yet another one of many bear hugs he doled out to his friends and admirers.
Herman was in great spirits when he attended a June Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It would be his last political event. The virus could not break his spirit, but it did defeat his body.
Herman fought to the end, but Father Time remained undefeated.
A creature of Wall Street, it was only fitting that Herman would die near the last day of the month.
His death occurred right before the monthly portfolio rebalancing day. Mutual fund managers bought and sold more than a few shares of companies Herman saved from bankruptcy.
What Herman lacked in hair, he made up for in hard work, happiness, heart, handshakes, and hugs.
On the day former Congressman John Lewis was eulogized, his fellow proud citizen of Atlanta, Georgia also breathed his last breath. Herman Cain will not rest in the Capitol rotunda, but all Atlanta barbershops should fly their American flags at half-staff.
That is the best way to honor a pair of black men who overcame poverty and discrimination but not male pattern baldness.
Herman would have found that funny.
Rest in peace, my beloved follically challenged friend.
— Maria Bartiromo (@MariaBartiromo) July 30, 2020