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Herman Cain Dies of Coronavirus Weeks After Attending Trump's Tulsa Rally

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Herman Cain Dies of Coronavirus Weeks After Attending Trump's Tulsa Rally

2020-07-31 14:33:45

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Herman Cain (Image source: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons)

It's hard to refute the evidence that someone has died directly because he attended Donald Trump's Tulsa campaign rally last month. Herman Cain died on Thursday of COVID-19 at the age of 74. Perhaps most disturbingly, while Trump did honor him in a tweet, he never took any responsibility for the possibility that his friend may have caught the virus at his rally.

The news of the 2012 Republican presidential candidate's passing was posted to his website on Thursday. "You're never ready for the kind of news we are grappling with this morning," wrote the website's editor, Dan Calabrese. "Herman Cain — our boss, our friend, like a father to so many of us — has passed away."

Calabrese also confirmed to The Washington Post the cause of death was COVID-19. It's not clear where he caught it, but Cain, the co-chair of Black Voices for Trump, did attend Trump's Tulsa rally on June 20. He was photographed not wearing a mask and not social distancing.

"My friend Herman Cain, a powerful voice of freedom and all that is good, passed away this morning," wrote Trump in a tweet on Thursday, noting he'd spoken to Cain's family. "Herman had an incredible career and was adored by everyone that ever met him, especially me. He was a very special man, an American patriot, and great friend."

It can't be missed that this tweet was written the same day as three of the other four living presidents attending the funeral of the late Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), who had been beaten on "Bloody Sunday" and was one of the Freedom Riders.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said Cain "led an accomplished life — business titan, cancer survivor, and Republican presidential candidate," adding, "He will always be remembered for his love of country."

As chairman and CEO of Godfather's Pizza, Cain had spoken up at a televised town hall with then-President Bill Clinton about health care. It raised his notoriety among Republicans. In 2014 he ran for senator in Georgia. Two years later, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer, which he beat. He then ran in the Republican presidential primary in 2012 but backed out after sexual allegations.

Cain was hospitalized less than two weeks after the rally. Before that, he had said in a tweet that masks would not be required t a July 4 celebration of Trump's at Mount Rushmore. "PEOPLE ARE FED UP!" he wrote.

More than 10 people connected with Trump's campaign, including Secret Service, had tested positive for COVID-19 hours before the start of the Tulsa rally. Just before the Mount Rushmore even, it was announced that Donald Trump Jr.'s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, who had been at the Tulsa rally, had tested positive.

Three weeks ago, an update posted to Cain's Twitter account said he was "still in an Atlanta-area hospital, where doctors are trying to make sure his oxygen levels are right." The tweet added, "This is a tough virus, but we serve a tougher God. Herman wants to get back in action soon, so please continue praying."

Chairman of the Tulsa County Republican Party, Bob Jack, said the Party was looking to speak with people who had met with Cain at the rally. "Looking for people that attended the President Trump Rally and met with Herman Cain," Jack posted to the Party's Facebook account. "Please call the Tulsa GOP office and leave a message for the chairman."

Jack admitted in an interview that Cain was at the rally, adding that he was "kind of under the radar," adding, "I didn't talk to anyone that actually spent time with him."

"We have not received any reports of anyone contracting COVID at the rally. I'm not saying there's not somebody out there. I'm just saying we haven't received any reports from anybody directly linked to the rally. I thought somebody would have caught it."

Despite this, Tulsa's health director Bruce Dart said the rally "likely" contributed to a spike in new COVID-19 cases in the weeks following.

"It was reckless for the event to have been held," said state Rep. Regina Goodwin (D), who represents the Tulsa area. "The death of Herman Cain is evidence of that recklessness and the insensitivity of Donald Trump. Unfortunately, Herman Cain died, but he chose to attend the rally without a mask ... basically, that is a life, a human being who should not be dead."

Black Voices for Trump advisory board member Paris Dennard attended the rally as well but wanted to limit his responses to the "life and legacy of Herman Cain," although he was photographed close to Cain at the rally. He said he "followed the CDC guidelines" about wearing masks and offered that people often take their masks off to be photographed. 

During his run for the 2012 Republican nomination, Cain became known for his Nine-Nine-Nine tax plan and the sexual harassment. Trump met with him in January 2019 about possibly joining the Federal Reserve Board. Asked for comment, Cain said, "None-None-None." He later withdrew his name from consideration, noting "how big a pay cut this would be." It was after he was being questioned over his qualifications and the sexual misconduct claims.

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