The legend of “The Herminator” was born one night in 1994. President Bill Clinton was hosting a nationally televised town hall meeting with citizens from all walks of life in nearly a dozen ABC affiliate studios to vet his universal health care plan when a human buzz saw from the Omaha, Neb., affiliate station stopped Clinton in his tracks.
Herman Cain, then the chairman of Omaha-based Godfather’s Pizza, used the most polite, respectful, deferential but exacting language to verbally rip apart the president’s health plan as unworkable and portray it as destined to kill small businesses. Cain soon after became the president and chief executive of the National Restaurant Association, the first black man ever to hold the office. There, he used his charismatic personality and preacherlike oration to make the NRA one of the most influential and respected lobbying groups in Washington, D.C.
These days Cain, who last year beat cancer, hosts a political radio show, "The Bottom Line with Herman Cain," which is broadcast in Atlanta.
When did you learn you had cancer?
March 2006, five months after I had had my annual checkup. I got this pain in my abdominal region and went to the doctor to see what it was. Turned out I had a tumor on my liver and it ruptured. And that is the thing about cancer that people should know: Unless you have pain or see blood somewhere, and by that time it’s generally too late, you never know you have it. So don’t be afraid to get those physicals, see your doctor, especially after 50. But the earlier, the better.
What did the doctor diagnose?
FAST FACTS EDUCATION: master’s degree in computer science, Purdue University EXPERIENCE: U.S. Navy mathematician; executive roles at The Coca-Cola Co., Pillsbury Co., Burger King and Godfather’s Pizza; past president and CEO of the NRA; motivational speaker; author, syndicated columnist and radio host BIRTH DATE: Dec. 13, 1945 HOMETOWN: Atlanta
EDUCATION: master’s degree in computer science, Purdue University
EXPERIENCE: U.S. Navy mathematician; executive roles at The Coca-Cola Co., Pillsbury Co., Burger King and Godfather’s Pizza; past president and CEO of the NRA; motivational speaker; author, syndicated columnist and radio host
BIRTH DATE: Dec. 13, 1945
Turned out I had cancer in both the liver and the colon. It was stage four cancer because it was in two organs. Rarely does anyone survive that. It’s usually a death sentence. It’s as bad as it gets. In fact, there are no stages higher.
Were you shocked?
Spiritually, I think God was trying to get my attention. Practically, I knew it was something that happens to a small percentage of all of us. I was healthy. Did everything in moderation. I wasn’t even taking any medications.
What was going through your head when the doctor told you that?
Well, I didn’t have fear because I have faith, and so I calmly and coolly asked him, “So what is our game plan? What is our first step to beating it?” And he told me, “First, we find a surgeon, then we start chemo.”
So how are you doing?
I did chemo every two weeks after the surgery. I had a comprehensive physical and CAT scan in January, and not only am I in remission, but there is no cancer in my body. That’s not to say it won’t come back. But as of today, I am cancer-free, not just a survivor.
Do you miss the industry?
Think you’ll come back?
Not at this phase of my life. I think I’m doing a lot of good helping to educate people, so that they make better-informed election decisions. There’s a big need for this. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.
Isee your radio station is part of the Fox News network. Does that make your radio show right of center?
No. We’re factual. We only deal in facts. You know, liberals hate facts [laughs]. They’ll call you a right-wing conservative when your stock in trade is just the facts.
But facts are what I use to help people become better-informed voters.