As soon as news broke in January 2011 that 65-year old former pizza baron, Herman Cain, had launched a presidential exploratory committee, the first question in the minds of most political pundits was: Does Cain possesses the requisite political pedigree to last the distance, never mind to win the actual race? After all, despite being a high-flying executive in the corporate world, as well as a much-respected figure in the Republican speaking circuit, Cain’s single attempt for public office came in 2004 when he contested the Republican Party’s nomination for the Georgia Senate seat. He was soundly defeated by Congressman Johnny Isakson by a margin of 27 points.
Of course, things are different now. Following a grueling 40-city Tea Party rally in 2010, Cain finished second behind Ron Paul in a straw poll conducted among Tea Party activists during a summit held at downtown Phoenix last February. Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney, his other potential opponents for the Republican nomination, came in third and fifth respectively in the poll.
Cain, a devout Christian from a middle class upbringing, typify the American rags to riches story. His father held three jobs, and his mother worked as a maid, just to put Cain through school. He did not disappoint them, excelling in his studies and earning his degree in Mathematics from Morehouse College, before obtaining his MSc in Computer Science from Purdue while working for the US Navy.
The politics of Cain was like the man himself; grounded, pragmatic and conservative, for he was after all, as he liked to point out, an ABC (American Black Conservative). He favored a return to the gold standard, small government and free enterprise. A confident and articulate speaker, Cain proved to be a formidable opponent in the debates, and his lack of political experience was perhaps an asset.
Cain's rise in popularity was reversed within weeks by numerous allegations of sexual misconduct and the acknowledgment that he made a series of payments to a friend, Ginger Winter, without his wife's knowledge. Winter claims the two had a 13-year affair.
Herman Cain announced his suspension from the 2012 race, in dramatic fashion, on December 3rd 2011 in Atlanta. It was the day he was supposed to have opened his official campaign headquarters in Georgia.