Politics

De Pasquale’s Dozen: Herman Cain

At CPAC 2010, there was one speaker that was able to fire up the audience at 8:30 a.m. — Herman Cain. He was engaging and energetic, no easy feat in a room filled with thousands of sleepy college students and activists.

Cain is best known as a successful CEO, talk radio host and columnist. He has an impressive resume. He was a mathematician for the Navy Department, business analyst for Coca-Cola, and a vice president for Pillsbury. Cain also turned around fast-food chains Burger King and Godfather’s Pizza. In fact, Cain started at Burger King by flipping hamburgers and worked his way up to managing more than 400 locations in the Philadelphia area.

Cain’s personal struggles growing black up in Georgia, as well as professional accomplishments in turning around failing companies shows the incredible opportunities and hopefulness in America. His successes are inspiring for many of those who have been hurt in the current economy. Starting over isn’t easy, but with hard work the rewards could be greater than you expect.

Cain is confirmed to speak at CPAC 2011, February 10-12, and he is sure to get an enthusiastic welcome.  Last April at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, Cain told the audience to be on the look out for a “dark horse” 2012 presidential candidate. When Pillsbury appointed him CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, he turned that brand around to profitability in just 14 months. Imagine what he could do in 48 months!

(1) If there were a television channel that only showed one movie over and over, what movie should it be?

CAIN: “The Ten Commandments” because I think this country is losing its moral compass.

(2) What’s one of your favorite movie quotes?

CAIN: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a d***!” — “Gone with the Wind.”

(3) In “A Clockwork Orange,” Malcolm McDowell is strapped in with his eyes propped open and forced to watch images until he was “cured.”  If you could give President Obama the “Clockwork Orange treatment,” what movie would you make him watch?

CAIN: I wouldn’t make him watch a movie, but instead a television show. It’s called “To Tell the Truth.”

(4) What pop culture souvenir do you own that people would be surprised to learn that you cherish?

CAIN: I have a picture of Michael Jordan with my son and a friend of his when he was 10 years old. Michael Jordan attended an event that Godfather’s sponsored, so my son got the opportunity to meet this sports legend. It is a memory of a great experience for us as a family.

(5) What’s your current “guilty pleasure” non-news television show?

CAIN: ESPN is about as “guilty pleasure” as I get. I like to watch University of Georgia athletics, the Atlanta Falcons and the University of Nebraska athletics. 

(6) What do you remember most about going to the movies as a kid?  How has that experience changed for the better or worse for your kids?

CAIN: I remember going to the movies with my parents at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, and we had to sit in the balcony because we were black. That experience taught me never to forget where we come from as a nation. We have overcome so many obstacles in our society. It’s changed for the better for our kids so now they do not have to go through those humiliating experiences. They need to know about it as a part of history, but they will never have to know the pain it caused me and countless other black children. 

(7) What was the first concert you ever attended and where did you sit and who went with you?

CAIN: I never went to a concert as a kid unless it was the Gospel concert at our church! Our dad wasn’t going to give us money to spend on a concert. He was trying to put food on the table! My first concert outside the church wasn’t until I was an adult. James Cleveland was the artist, a very popular Gospel singer. I attended the concert with a friend, Sam Davis, who was a Gospel artist and composer. It was an inspirational performance that I will remember forever.

(8) Who is your favorite sports hero?

CAIN: I enjoyed watching the career of Lee Elder, who was one of the first successful professional black golfers. I needed a corporate sport, and most folks choose golf or tennis. I was worse at tennis than golf, so I took up golf! My game isn’t nearly as good as his, but his legacy is inspiring. 

(9) If Republicans and Democrats had New Year’s resolutions for 2011 what should they be?

CAIN: Passing legislation for the people, instead of passing legislation for the political party.

(10) What are your favorite pizza toppings?

CAIN: High-quality pepperoni, high-quality Italian sausage and high-quality mozzarella cheese. As a pizza guru, I know quality when I taste it! 

(11) What is the most memorable Christmas present you ever gave?

CAIN: After my wife and I had two children and I started to make a good living after years of sacrifice, I bought her a new car and tried to sneak it into the garage. At dinner that night, my kids were about to burst open because they couldn’t keep the secret any longer! I brought her out to garage where the car was waiting with a giant bow, just like you see on television commercials. She loved it! After all, who wouldn’t like a new car as a gift?

(12) Tell me about the moment you decided to enter the political arena.

CAIN: I was watching guys play golf three times a week. And I thought that’s what I wanted to do at that point of my life — sit back, relax and plan my retirement. But then one day I was sitting in my office watching a politician on television, and I got totally ticked off! I knew that “politics as usual” just wasn’t cutting it for the people in Georgia. It was then that I decided I couldn’t sit back and not do what I was able to [do to] change things. That feeling resulted in my bid for U.S. Senate in 2004 and all of my activities to date.