WASHINGTON – Former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain died after a battle with COVID-19, according to posts on his Twitter account and on his website.
“Herman Cain – our boss, our friend, like a father to so many of us – has passed away,” wrote Dan Calabrese, the editor of Cain’s website.
“Herman was 74. Although he was basically pretty healthy in recent years, he was still in a high-risk group because of his history with cancer,” he continued.
The former Godfather’s Pizza CEO, who also served as the co-chair of Black Voices for Trump, was hospitalized at the beginning of July after developing coronavirus symptoms.
He attended President Donald Trump’s controversial rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the end of June, but he did not wear a mask. He posted a picture of himself and other attendees in close proximity and without wearing masks.
Local health officials had called for the event’s cancellation out of fears it could become a “super-spreader” event, and the head of the Tulsa Health Department later acknowledged the rally and surrounding protests had likely contributed to a surge in cases in Tulsa.
Several Trump campaign staffers and Secret Services employees tested positive for COVID-19 before the rally and self-quarantined.
As recently as Monday, an update on Cain’s website said he was still being treated with oxygen, but his organs were “strong.”
“He really is getting better, which means it is working,” the post said.
You’re never ready for the kind of news we are grappling with this morning. But we have no choice but to seek and find God’s strength and comfort to deal… #HermanCain https://t.co/BtOgoLVqKz
— Herman Cain (@THEHermanCain) July 30, 2020
Trump tweeted a statement Thursday afternoon calling Cain a “special man, an American Patriot, and great friend.” He said he spoke on the phone with Cain’s family to express his condolences.
…the phone with his amazing wife Gloria, daughter, Melanie, and son Vincent to express my deepest condolences to the entire family. @FLOTUS Melania and I loved Herman Cain, a great man. Herman, Rest In Peace! pic.twitter.com/GNUf5jHjX0
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 30, 2020
Vice President Mike Pence also expressed his sympathies to Cain’s family.
Karen and I were saddened to hear of the passing of our friend Herman Cain and we send our deepest sympathies to his family and friends. Herman was a success in business, an indispensable voice for the Conservative movement and he will be deeply missed.
— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) July 30, 2020
Former Cain aide Ellen Carmichael, who had served as the communications director for Cain’s campaign, tweeted her condolences, calling him a “giant of a person.”
The Black Voices for Trump coalition, in which Cain served as co-chair, released a statement, saying, “Herman was an icon and a personification of the American Dream.”
“We were honored to consider him part of our Trump family and a key advisor to the Black Voices for Trump coalition. We mourn as one nation today for him,” the statement said.
In a post on Twitter, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said 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. We will never forget his legacy of grace, patriotism, and faith,” she wrote.
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Cain ran for the Republican presidential nomination in the 2012 Republican primary, attracting attention for his “9-9-9” plan to slash taxes. He suspended his campaign in December 2011, however, amid allegations of sexual misconduct. Cain denied the allegations.
Speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill, Sen. Mitt Romney, who was the Republican Party’s presidential nominee in 2012, said he was “saddened” to hear about Cain’s death.
“We campaigned against each other in a presidential contest but it was fun being with him,” Romney said. “He’s a guy who made a real mark on American life and I note that when he reaches St. Peter’s Gate I expect the first words to come out of his mouth will be ‘nine nine nine.’ ”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Herman Cain dies after battle with COVID-19