Radio talk show host Herman Cain recently announced his intention to form a presidential exploratory committee for the 2012 Republican nomination. He will be at the Congress for Racial Equality’s (CORE) annual Martin Luther King Jr. dinner in New York City this evening. The former CEO of the multi-million dollar restaurant chain Godfather’s Pizza is no newcomer to politics. I spoke to Mr. Cain late last week and asked what motivated him to start laying out the groundwork for a presidential run in ’12.
“In 2004 I ran for the United States Senate [in Georgia]. The two things that I learned from that race, where I came in an impressive second, was if I ever were to run for office again, I would start early and I would hire good people. That’s why I decided I would go ahead now and announce the presidential exploratory committee,” he said.
A graduate of Morehouse College, Mr. Cain notes on his website that he and his wife Gloria moved together to Indiana, “where I would begin my Master’s degree program at Purdue University, while working full-time as a mathematician at the Department of the Navy.” After earning his Masters, he climbed the corporate ladder in Atlanta at the Coca-Cola Company and later went to the Pillsbury Company, where he eventually was promoted to vice President.
Mr. Cain later resigned his position at Pillsbury to take on the company’s Burger King division and “to lead a low performing region of 450 Burger King restaurants. Within three years, we became the best-performing region in the U.S.” Mr. Cain’s website explains how he eventually went on to become the CEO of the once on-the-brink restaurant chain Godfather’s Pizza:
I could have been content with my executive role with one of America’s biggest corporations. Instead, after consulting with my wife, we decided to take one of the biggest risks of our marriage: picking up our young family, relocating yet again and accepting the call to become CEO and President of Godfather’s Pizza, a company teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.
In 14 months, we turned the company around and returned it to profitability, and I ultimately led my management team to a buyout of Godfather’s Pizza. The company never went bankrupt, and today, there are still hundreds of locations across the U.S.
In 2002, Mr. Cain stepped down as CEO of of Godfather’s. With this much private sector success behind him, it is no wonder Herman Cain has his eyes on highest political office. Many business owners feel as if politicians on Capitol Hill know little if nothing about how to run or manage a business, so businesses at large in the United States are often highly regulated by local, state, and federal lawmakers.
“The second reason why I decided to [form an exploratory committee] now was because of the overwhelming support that I have gotten across this country in the last two years by being very active in the citizen’s movement out there,” he explained. “
“Some people call it the tea party movement. I call it the citizen’s movement, because if there’s just the tea party organizations, and there’s a couple of those, but there’s Americans for Prosperity. It’s Americans for Tax Reform. It’s the intelligent thinkers movement.”
While Mr. Cain was not successful the first time around when he ran for Georgia’s Senate seat in 2004, he believes he is better prepared now. He must not only fire up his grassroots support but also compete with well-known conservatives who cross over into the minds of Americans who are not as often politically engaged until a month before election day, so expect to see a lot more of Herman Cain in the near future on your TV sets, radios, and laptops.