Herman Cain, a former presidential hopeful who was once considered by President Donald Trump for the Federal Reserve, has died after being hospitalized with the coronavirus. He was 74.
Cain was among the highest-profile public figures in the United States to have died from Covid-19. A 74-year-old survivor of stage 4 colon cancer, Cain had been a business executive and the board chairman of a branch of Kansas City’s Federal Reserve Bank before moving into Republican politics and eventually becoming a presidential candidate.
Last year, President Donald Trump briefly considered picking Cain as his nominee to join the Federal Reserve Board. Cain remained a vocal supporter of Trump’s after his nomination was withdrawn, and he attended the president’s controversial reelection rally in Oklahoma in June, shortly before being diagnosed with the coronavirus.
Dan Calabrese, who edited Cain’s website and had written about his colleague’s diagnosis, did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for additional comment.
Cain had been hospitalized in Atlanta on July 1, two days after being told he had tested positive for Covid-19, according to a statement posted to his social media accounts at the time.
He did not require a respirator and was “awake and alert” when he checked in to the hospital, the statement said. “Please join with us in praying for Mr. Cain, and for everyone who has contracted the coronavirus – as well as their families,” it said.
Cain’s social media accounts occasionally provided vague updates on his condition. A message on July 5 said he was “making progress” and that “more encouraging news” was expected to come soon. Two days later, Cain’s Twitter account said “doctors are trying to make sure his oxygen levels are right.”
On July 10, another tweet said Cain himself described his status as “cruise control,” because “the progress is slow but his breathing is getting stronger every day. Make no mistake: He is improving!”
Less than two weeks before receiving his diagnosis, Cain had attended Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the marquee event for the president’s self-proclaimed reelection campaign kickoff.
Cain, a vocal supporter of Trump, tweeted a photograph of himself at the rally surrounded by other attendees, none of whom appeared to be wearing masks or other protective gear.
The Trump campaign said that all attendees at the event had their temperatures checked upon entry, and that masks and hand sanitizer were handed out but not required to use.
The campaign revealed before the event that six members of the team involved in the rally preparations had tested positive for the virus and had been quarantined.
The July 2 statement on Cain’s hospitalization said, “There is no way of knowing for sure how or where Mr. Cain contracted the coronavirus.” The Trump campaign said after Cain’s diagnosis that he had not met with the president at the Tulsa rally.
Calabrese, the media director of Cain’s website, repeatedly declined CNBC’s requests for additional information on Cain’s condition throughout his struggle with the virus.
“We’re not saying anything else beyond what we’ve posted on social media,” Calabrese said in a July 7 email. “That’s Herman’s and [his wife, Gloria Etchison’s,] wish so I appreciate you respecting it.”
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