After months of languishing on the sidelines of the GOP presidential race, Herman Cain has skyrocketed to the top of the national polls and now looks like he might actually be a real contender for the Republican nomination in 2012.
Until Cain and his “9-9-9” tax plan dominated Tuesday’s presidential debate and vaulted him into the national spotlight, few outside of the Tea Party knew much about Cain, other than that he is black and likes pizza.
That is largely because, until this week, Cain’s presidential campaign was virtually non-existent. Eschewing the fundraisers and early voting state visits typical of most campaigns, Cain and his staff have spent the last few weeks promoting his book, This Is Herman Cain! My Journey to the White House.
Released last week, the book is now No. 4 on the New York Times bestsellers list. But assuming you haven’t picked it up yet, we read it so you don’t have to.
The book offers some interesting insight into the candidate’s background and what he plans to do if he gets elected to the Oval Office.
In many ways, Cain is basically the embodiment of the American dream.
The 65-year-old pizza magnate grew up in Atlanta, Georgia at the height of the Civil Rights battles. His mother was a domestic worker and his father worked as a janitor for Pillsbury and as a chauffeur for Coca-Cola -- two companies where Herman Cain later worked as a white-collar professional.
'I didn't grow up wanting to be president of the United States. I grew up po', which is even worse than being poor.'
His father's dream was to see his sons graduate from college, which Herman and his brother both did.
Cain is best known as a conservative talk show personality and former CEO of Godfather's Pizza, a Midwestern pizza chain Cain bought from Pillsbury after bringing it back from the brink of bankruptcy.
But there is more to Cain than just pizza. He has also been a:
- Rocket scientist (he developed fire control systems for the U.S. Navy)
- Computer scientist (he has a master's degree from Purdue University)
- Senior Vice President of Systems for Pillsbury (he oversaw construction of the company's World Headquarters in Minneapolis)
- Regional Vice President of Burger King (he turned Philadelphia's 450 restaurant from the least profitable to the most profitable in the country)
- Chairman of the Kansas City Federal Reserve Board
- President of the National Restaurant Association
- CEO of RetailDNA, a retail marketing startup
- Motivational speaker and author through his leadership consulting company, T.H.E., Inc, or The Hermanator Experience
Cain credits his many accomplishments -- and his presidential ambitions -- to being a 'CEO of Self,' a philosophy of life he has been developing since he was in high school.
Cain applies the 'CEO of Self' idea to all aspects of his life, including the campaign. Cain is the CEO of his presidential campaign, his chief-of-staff Mark Block is COO, Block's deputy, Linda Hansen is Executive Vice President, and campaign aide Nathan Naidu is assistant to the COO.
Cain also explains that his wife Gloria's lack of involvement on his campaign is because she is her own 'CEO of Self,' but that they are 'vice chairman and vice chairwoman, respectively, of each others' boards of directors.'
If elected president, Cain plans on referring to himself as CEO of America, and will refer to his cabinet as his 'executive committee.'
Ever noticed how Cain is almost always wearing a gold tie? That is because gold is his 'power colour.'
Cain does not elaborate, and it is not clear how he would feel about switching to the red and blue palate typical of presidential candidates.
In one of the most powerful anecdotes of This Is Herman Cain!, Cain describes why he cuts his own hair.
While working for the Navy in Virginia during the late 1960s, when barber shops were still segregated, Cain went to get his hair cut at a shop where he knew black barbers worked. But after waiting for 30 minutes and seeing white customers come and go, they told Cain they weren't allowed to cut black people's hair.
'When I left that barbershop, I bought a set of clippers and cut my own hair. I continue to cut my own hair to this day, exercising my right as CEO of Self to do so.'
If you watched Tuesday night's presidential debate, you may have noticed some tension between Herman Cain and U.S. Congressman Ron Paul, another Tea Party favourite.
The two candidates actually have a pretty longstanding feud, stemming from Cain's role as a member of the Kansas City Federal Reserve board. Paul, a staunch libertarian, believes the Fed should be abolished and has accused Cain of being against auditing the Federal Reserve.
In his book, Cain defends himself from the accusation, writing that he is not against an audit but that it is not one of his priorities, or 'in the words of my grandfather, I does not care.' He goes on to say that 'vociferous critics of the Federal Reserve system don't know what they are talking about.'
Later, Cain adds that 'Paulites' are making 'a conscious effort to discredit me and bring me down' by coming to his campaign events and asking questions about the Federal Reserve. He writes:
'It's really becoming annoying more than anything else. But I've got news for those Paulites: It's not going to work, because the American people are a lot smarter than they are.'
Cain's feud with Paul is in some ways surprising, given that both candidates base their political ideologies around the ideas of Austrian economist Friedrich von Hayek and his 1944 book The Road to Serfdom.
In his book, Cain writes that Hayek's prediction -- that America would face a socialist takeover -- is coming true now because President Obama 'does not understand the free-market system.'
An entire chapter of This Is Herman Cain! is devoted to the significance that the number 45 has played in his life.
First, he notes that his 'conception, gestation, and birth' all happened in 1945.
He then recounts how, in April 2011, he almost abandoned his campaign after facing a week of logistical challenges. But on the way back to Atlanta, he flew on flight 1045 and when he asked what altitude they were flying at, the pilot told him 45,000 feet. And a week later, during a speech he gave in Nashville, he was interrupted 45 times by applause. All of which he took as signs that he is supposed to be the 45th President of the United States.
As president, Cain would implement the Cain Doctrine, a domestic and foreign policy plan to fix the lapses of the Obama administration.
The 'doctrine,' laid out in his book, is pretty straight forward:
- Energy: 'I would never go to a foreign country, loan them money, and then tell them we'll be their best customer. Under provisions of the Cain Doctrine, we, America, will be our own best customer.' (That's it for energy.)
- Immigration: Secure the borders by building a fence AND a moat, to be known as 'Herman's Moat.'
- Abortion: Defund Planned Parenthood
- Economy: The 9-9-9 Plan, of course.
- Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid: 'Take this entitlement society to an empowerment society' by making cuts.
- Foreign Policy: 'If you mess with Israel, you are messing with the United States, is that clear?' He adds that he wants to be briefed on classified intelligence before deciding how to deal with the rest of the Middle East.
The final bullet point of the Cain Doctrine deals with 'the thorny issue of Sharia law.'
He explains that in Europe, 'because of the gradual infusion over time of Islam's religious and political system,' some European nations are having a difficult time 'making rulings as to when to apply Sharia law and when to apply existing laws.' The U.S., however, 'wasn't set up that way.'
'So the Cain Doctrine on that one is: The United States of America will not invoke Sharia law -- at least not on my watch.
American laws in American courts.'
Note: Sharia law is a broad -- and widely misunderstood -- concept of Islamic jurisprudence. Muslims differ in their view of what Sharia law entails, although most agree that it regulates civil and criminal justice, as well as religious conduct.
In the final chapter of his book, Cain lays out what he will do in the first 90 days of his administration.
First, he will be sworn in at 'high noon' (on his radio show, he is known as High Noon Herman Cain). He will only have one inaugural ball followed by 'a series of celebratory occasions spread out over the first five months' of his administration. He will also invite 'small groups of average citizens' to have dinner with him at the White House.
Next step, repeal Obamacare and replace it with 'Caincare.' Then he'll start making budget cuts.
The First Lady plans on coming up with the 'Grandmommy Project,' although she is not sure what it will entail yet.
Cain reveals in his book that, if elected president, his Secret Service code name would be 'Cornbread,' because he really loves cornbread.
The name has already caught on with Cain's staff, who refer to the candidate as 'Cornbread' on the campaign's internal schedules.
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