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Businessman Herman Cain Lays Groundwork for Possible Republican Presidential Bid

October 13, 2010 - 6:00pm

While most of the potential Republican presidential candidates aiming at their partys nomination in 2012 have campaigned in Florida for U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio, Herman Cain has taken something of a slightly different tack with his PAC backing three congressional candidates in the Sunshine State.

One of the most visible African-Americans in the Republican ranks, Cain, through his Herminator PAC which is based out of Orlando, endorsed Republican congressional candidates Steve Southerland, former House Speaker Daniel Webster and Rep. David Rivera of Miami at the end of September.

I couldnt be more pleased to support Steve Southerland, Daniel Webster and David Rivera as they continue to run strong campaigns advocating for Floridas working families and job-creators, said Cain.

Steve Southerland, Daniel Webster and David Rivera represent a real threat to the agenda of liberals like Nancy Pelosi, Allen Boyd, Alan Grayson and Joe Garcia," he added. "While their tax-and-spend policies are meant to reward their special-interest benefactors, Southerland, Webster and Rivera are committed to pro-economic growth policies that will provide Floridas job creators relief in this challenging economy and ensure the American dream for all of Floridas working families.

Conservatives like Steve Southerland, Daniel Webster and David Rivera need and deserve the resources necessary to help put our great country back on track and to undo the damaging policies of the liberals who dominate Congress, said Cain.

As he has acknowledged throughout 2010, including over last weekend at a tea party rally in Virginia,he is contemplating running for the Republican presidential nomination, possibly joining a field with much better-known candidates, including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, U.S. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, U.S. Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, former New York Gov. George Pataki, and former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton.

Besides taking on a host of better-known opponents, Cain will, if he runs, also fight a number of historical trends.

Cains background is in business -- most noticeably as the CEO of Godfathers Pizza and working with the Pillsbury Corp. While Cain has never held elective office, he ran for the U.S. Senate in Georgia in 2004 -- placing a distant second in the Republican primary behind eventual winner Johnny Isakson, who hammered Cain for backing affirmative-action programs. Cain has been visible since losing that contest through his radio talk-show, newspaper column and speaking at tea party rallies.

But history offers little solace for Cain. Throughout American history, businessmen have tried -- and usually stumbled badly -- pursuing a presidential nomination.

Utilities businessman and attorney Wendell Willkie won the Republican presidential nomination in 1940 without having held elected office -- but he was the only internationalist in the field with Hitler having just conquered France.The presidential campaign of newspaper owner Frank Gannett, who placed eighth on the first ballot of the convention that nominated Willkie, was a bit more typical. While businessmen ranging from banker Melvin Traylor to RCA founder and GE chairman Owen D. Young ran for the presidency, almost all of them were complete non-factors in their pursuits.

Two prominent business leaders sought the Republican presidential nomination in recent memory. Despite his media connections and supply-side economic ideas, Steve Forbes did not obtain the Republican presidential nomination in either 1996 or 2000, though he won primaries in Delaware and Arizona in 1996 and placed third in total votes both time. Morry Taylor, president and CEO of Titan International, pulled 1 percent of the vote when he sought the Republican presidential nomination in 1996.

Cain certainly has an uphill climb if he runs for president -- but his backers point out that he has overcome the odds before, starting at Pillsbury, making hamburgers at Burger King and ending up as the CEO of Godfathers Pizza, then serving as chairman of the National Restaurant Association.

Kevin Derby can be reached at or (850) 727-0859 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting(850) 727-0859end_of_the_skype_highlighting. As a third grader, he lived on the same block as Cain in Moorestown, N.J. in 1984 and has not seen or talked to him since.

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