GOP’s Herman Cain Proud of Memphis Roots

On October 5, 2011, in News 2011, by Mark Norris

Les Smith, MyFoxMemphis.com Ocotber 5, 2011 MEMPHIS, Tenn. – In the wake of three separate straw polls in an 8 day stretch, Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain has established momentum over a field of opponents. But, few people know much about Cain’s early childhood ties to Memphis and the Mid-South. In the first of the […]

Les Smith, MyFoxMemphis.com
Ocotber 5, 2011

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – In the wake of three separate straw polls in an 8 day stretch, Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain has established momentum over a field of opponents. But, few people know much about Cain’s early childhood ties to Memphis and the Mid-South.

In the first of the four motivational books he’s penned, Herman Cain relates how a teacher once told him he would always have an inferior education because he went to black schools. No one remembers who that teacher was.
 
But now, nearly everyone in America is hearing about native Memphian Herman Cain, whether they want to listen or not. “With all due respect, political correctness is not one of my strong points,” he said. “It is a lie and it’s class warfare.”
 
“He actually mentioned that he could get a third of the black vote,” said Republican Congressional candidate Charlotte Bergmann. “I can guarantee you, especially in Memphis with him being a son of Memphis because he was actually born here, he could bring it home.
 
Mark Norris, Tennessee State Representative of Collierville, stated, “How often does Memphis, Tennessee have a hometown presidential candidate? That’s essentially who Cain is and he’s distinguishing himself now and it’s tough field out there.”
 
But, acquiring “toughness” began early for a child born the grandson of an Arlington, Tennessee farmer and the son of a poor and hard-working father who became his life-long role model. Cain’s father, Luther, left the farm to come to Memphis where he met and married Cain’s mother, who was a maid. However, though the family moved to just outside Atlanta while Cain was still a child, his family’s roots were firmly planted in the Mid-South.
 
Cain’s admiration for his father, who at one time worked three jobs to put his two sons through school and college, was evident. In his book he notes, his father taught him “the color of his skin should never be a “barrier” to success.” Cain’s father would die at the age of 56, but time enough to see Cain graduate from prestigious Morehouse College in 1967. By that time the young Cain had found a new motivator to make lots of money.
 
“They wait until a problem is at a disaster point, and then go to the American people and say we have no choice. That’s not leadership,” Cain said.
 
The emergence of Cain as the hard driving businessman included turning a loser of a franchise called “Godfather’s Pizza” into a multi-million dollar business after taking over the reins of the company in 1986. His first brush with the political arena was an impromptu opportunity to verbally duel on national television with President Bill Clinton. His exchange with Clinton during a 1994 town hall forum on a national healthcare plan was adversarial and electric.
 
“You would add about one and a half percent. Would that really cause you to lay off people if all your competitors had to do it too?” asked Clinton.
 
“Your calculations on what the impact would do, quite honestly, is incorrect,” Cain replied.
 
It’s Cain’s polite yet outspoken style which seems to have found not only a home in the Republican party, but a place at the forefront of the conservative movement.
 
“He’s a great guy. He’s humorous. But, he is certainly down to earth,” noted Bergmann. “He reminds me of my father who was a Baptist minister. He just lays it on the line and just tells you exactly how it is.”
 
Perhaps Cain’s fierce desire to succeed is best summed up in what he describes as his favorite poem God’s Minute, a portion of which reads, “I’ve only just a minute…only 60 seconds in it. Forced upon me, can’t refuse it. Didn’t seek it, didn’t choose it. But, it’s up to me to use it.”
 
And it doesn’t look like Cain’s minute is ready to come to an end yet.