Herman Cain Dies of COVID-19 as Infections Rattle GOP Staff

Herman Cain, former Republican presidential candidate and businessman, passed away due to complications from coronavirus (AP Photo/Molly Riley)

By Meghan McCarthy

July 30, 2020

The former Republican presidential candidate’s death comes one day after news of Turning Point USA founder also dying of coronavirus complications.

Former Republican presidential candidate and businessman Herman Cain reportedly died due to complications of coronavirus, after attending the president’s rally in Tulsa in late June.

Tulsa health officials urged the president to reschedule his rally, the first he held since the coronavirus pandemic. Over 6,000 people attended the rally, far fewer than the tens of thousands the Trump campaign predicted.

After the rally, Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart said it “likely contributed” to a dramatic surge in new coronavirus cases. In the weeks after the rally, Tulsa County reported over 200 cases per day. Before the rally, daily cases were under 100.

On Wednesday, POLITICO reported that Turning Point USA co-founder, Bill Montgomery, also died from complications of coronavirus. Montgomery, who was 80 years old, founded the conservative student group with Charlie Kirk, who has become a celebrity among Trump fans. Kirk told POLITICO that he “can’t put into words how saddened I am by the death of my dear friend Bill Montgomery.”

Like Cain, Kirk downplayed the seriousness of the virus and had been critical of wearing masks and questioned many public health efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus. On Thursday, Business Insider reported that after Montgomery’s death, Turning Point USA deleted a tweet that mocked people wearing face coverings.

The past two days may mark a sea change in how professional GOP staffers view public health measures to fight coronavirus.

After news that Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) tested positive for coronavirus after attending committee hearings and votes on Capitol Hill, often without a mask, a staffer from his office emailed POLITICO to share that they were “berated for wearing masks” and required the full staff to be in the office.

After Gohmert’s infection, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) instituted a mask requirement in all House office buildings and the House side of the Capitol complex.

And several more GOP staffers anonymously complained about their working conditions during the pandemic, from being force to work in-person despite underlying health conditions to being ridiculed for wearing a mask.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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