Herman Cain Biography

Business Leader (1945–)
A former fast-food chain executive, Herman Cain emerged as a Republican candidate for the 2012 presidential nomination.


Sometimes called the Hermanator, Herman Cain was born on December 13, 1945. After earning degrees from Morehouse College and Purdue University, Cain worked for Coca-Cola and Pillsbury Company. He later successfully revived the Godfather's Pizza chain. In 2004, Cain made a failed bid for the Senate. He returned to the political fold in 2011 as a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.

Early Years

Herman Cain grew up poor in Atlanta, Georgia. Both of his parents struggled to care for him and his brother. His mother worked as a domestic and his father held several jobs, including serving as a chauffeur for the Coca-Cola Co. Cain's parents stressed the importance of education, a lesson he took to heart.

In 1967, Cain graduated from Morehouse College with a bachelor's degree in mathematics. He continued his studies at Purdue University, earning a master's degree in computer science. During this time, Cain worked for the U.S. Navy. There he helped design fire control systems.

Climbing the Corporate Ladder

With his advanced technical skills, Cain became a systems analyst for Coca-Cola. He then moved in 1977 to food giant Pillsbury where he worked his way up to vice president. Switching from information technology to business management, Cain went to work at the company's Burger King division. Cain learned the ropes by manning the grills himself and eventually became a regional vice president for the fast-food chain.

In 1986, Cain took on his biggest business challenge. He accepted the post of president and CEO of the failing Godfather's Pizza chain. In fourteen months, Cain managed to turn the pizza chain around, cutting the number of stores by a third and boosted sales at the remaining restaurants. He and other executives later bought the chain from Pillsbury.

Political Ambitions

Cain emerged on the national political stage in the mid-1990s. As the head of the National Restaurant Association, he challenged President Bill Clinton on healthcare at a television event. Known to be blunt and outspoken, Cain publicly criticized First Lady Hillary Clinton's plans for healthcare reform. He thought the suggested reforms would have a negative impact on business.

In 2004, Cain sought political office for the first time. He failed in his bid to win one of Georgia's Senate seats. Undeterred, Cain has thrown himself into the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. He originally appeared to be a long shot for the nomination, but he has picked up some momentum during the campaign. In August 2011, Cain came in fourth in the Iowa Straw Poll, beating out such better known candidates as Rick Perry and Mitt Romney. He won the Florida Straw Poll a month later.

Cain has won over supporters with his direct, no nonsense approach to reforming government. His plan for creating a fair, flat tax for businesses and individuals, however, has come under fire by critics for being unclear and for potentially placing a greater tax burden on lower-income Americans. His sense of humor has also landed in political hot water for making jokes about building a electrical fence on the U.S. border. Cain also made a notable foreign policy gaff when he said that he could not name the president of Uzbekistan was and "knowing who is the head of some of these small insignificant states around the world" was not as important as focusing on domestic issues. Despite these missteps, he became one of the candidates to watch as the race for the Republican presidential nomination heats up.

Personal Life

Cain lives in Sandy Springs, Georgia, with his wife Gloria. The couple has two children and several grandchildren.

A devoted fan of gospel music, Cain once recorded his own album of religious songs. He has also hosted his own radio show for an Atlanta station and written several books.

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