Can Cain Conquer?

By Weinkopf, Chris | The American Enterprise, October-November 2003 | Go to article overview

Can Cain Conquer?


Weinkopf, Chris, The American Enterprise


At a New York fundraiser for then Presidential candidate Steve Forbes a few years ago, the speech that grabbed everyone by the lapels was a rousing, fiery sermon by a Georgia businessman named Herman Cain. "He clearly upstaged Forbes himself," recalls Stephen Moore of the Club for Growth. "I joked to Herman that you're not supposed to overshadow the keynote speaker!"

But with his personal passion, his inspiring life story, and his powerful oratory, it's hard for Cain not to upstage those around him. Now he's trying to upstage two sitting members of Congress in a contest for the U.S. Senate. He is a Republican candidate in the race to succeed Georgia's outgoing Democrat, Senator Zell Miller, a campaign the COP is favored to win by virtue of the party's rising popularity in the state.

Cain is a self-made millionaire in the chain-restaurant business, and former head of the National Restaurant Association. Politically, he's a leader of the movement to replace the federal income tax with a consumption tax, and he argues urgently against raising the minimum wage. [See TAE's July/August 1996 issue.] He's also black.

The grandson of sharecroppers, Cain was unable to attend a segregated University of Georgia, graduating instead from Morehouse College in 1967. He later obtained a master's degree at Purdue, before working his way through corporate jobs at Pillsbury and its Burger King division. He next saved the company's slumping Godfather's Pizza chain. Then he bought it for $40 million.

Cain's experience has made him the ultimate believer in--and spokesman for--the power of the individual in a free market. Moore describes him as "really committed to making America a place where the poor are rich, not the rich poor. He doesn't believe in wealth redistribution, but wealth creation. …

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