Former presidential candidate Herman Cain dies of COVID-19

Former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain has died weeks after he was diagnosed with COVID-19, according to an announcement made Thursday on his website. He was 74.

“You’re never ready for the kind of news we are grappling with this morning,” Dan Calabrese, the editor for Cain’s website, wrote Thursday in a statement. “Herman Cain – our boss, our friend, like a father to so many of us – has passed away.”

Cain died at an Atlanta-area hospital where he had been critically ill for several weeks, according to Newsmax. Company officials said he had recently joined Newsmax TV and had planned to launch a new weekly show prior to his death.

Cain was admitted to a hospital July 1 after testing positive two days earlier for a novel coronavirus infection.

“We knew when he was first hospitalized with COVID-19 that this was going to be a rough fight,” Calabrese wrote Thursday. “He had trouble breathing and was taken to the hospital by ambulance. We all prayed that the initial meds they gave him would get his breathing back to normal, but it became clear pretty quickly that he was in for a battle.”

Calabrese said doctors were hopeful as recently as five days before his death that Cain would make a recovery. However, because Cain previously beat liver cancer, he was considered at high-risk for complications related to COVID-19.

It remained unclear Thursday how Cain contracted a coronavirus infection. The radio host, who traveled frequently, attended President Donald Trump’s rally on June 20 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Cain grew up in Georgia, where he attended Morehouse College, according to WSB-TV. He stared his career as a civilian employee of the U.S. Navy before shifting into the corporate world. In the 1980s, a successful stint as a business executive at Burger King prompted Pillsbury to appoint him as chairman and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, a role he held from 1986 to 1996, WSB-TV reported.

From 1989 to 1991, Cain served as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s Omaha branch. He entered politics as a senior economic advisor to Republican Bob Dole during his 1996 bid for the presidency, according to WSB-TV.

Cain briefly rose to the top of polls during the 2012 race for the Republican presidential nomination by highlighting a plan to simplify the tax code with what he called the 9-9-9 plan. On the campaign trail, he spoke about being diagnosed in 2006 with stage 4 liver cancer and his doctors giving him slim hope for long-term survival.

Cain is survived by his wife, two children and several grandchildren, according to WSB-TV.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.