Politics

Conservative Black Pizza Magnate Seeks Senate

There are at least a couple of things that separate Herman Cain, the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza now running for the U.S. Senate from Georgia, from other multi-millionaires such as Jon Corzine of New Jersey and John Edwards of North Carolina who have recently been elected to that office. For one, Cain is black. For another, he’s a conservative Republican. Should he be elected to replace retiring Sen. Zell Miller (D.-Ga.), Cain would become only the second black Republican senator since Reconstruction. The historic significance of his candidacy notwithstanding, Cain drew little publicity during a swing through Washington last week precisely because he is an unapologetic conservative who happens to be black. “As the head of a business,” Cain told me in an interview, “I solve problems one day, solve problems the next day and the next day. A lot of these problems come from taxes and regulations. They have to be cut and rolled back to permit businesses to create more new jobs and eventually, the whole tax system has to be restructured.” “Life begins with conception,” said Cain. “That’s all there is to it.” “I grew up before we were told guns would get up and do all these bad things and I believe strongly in the 2nd Amendment,” he said. “My father was a chauffeur who had to protect his employer as well as drive him. So he carried a gun. And if you were black in South Georgia in the 1950’s and drove a big car, you’d better have had a gun!” Cain said life made him a conservative before he registered as a Republican. In 1994, as a member of the audience in a town meeting with Bill Clinton, Cain asked the President what he would tell the employees his company would have to lay off if the “Hillary-Care” health program became law. When Clinton insisted his calculations showed no one would need to be laid off, Cain countered: “Mr. President, with all due respect, your calculations are incorrect.” Cain was an independent then. Two years later, while still an independent, he campaigned for Bob Dole and Jack Kemp. While stumping with Kemp in Harlem, Cain recalled, “One of the Democratic hecklers, a big tall dude, shouted at me that ‘If you’re with them [the Republicans], you must be an Uncle Tom!’ Well, I thought about that on the flight home. You can be judged by the company you keep. After I got home, I re-registered as a Republican.”