His website confirmed the news Thursday morning.
“You’re never ready for the kind of news we are grappling with this morning,” Dan Calabrese, the editor of Cain’s website, wrote. “But we have no choice but to seek and find God’s strength and comfort to deal with it.
“Herman Cain ― our boss, our friend, like a father to so many of us ― has passed away. He’s entering the presence of the Savior he’s served as an associate minister at Antioch Baptist Church in Atlanta for, and preparing for his reward.”
Cain reportedly learned that he tested positive for COVID-19 on June 29. He was hospitalized two days later after developing “serious” symptoms, according to a statement shared on his Twitter account at the time.
His diagnosis came less than two weeks after he attended President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Cain, who co-chaired Black Voices for Trump, tweeted a photo of himself without a mask at the event, which was attended by several thousand people.
Calabrese pushed back on speculation at the time that Cain might have contracted the virus at Trump’s rally, noting he’d done plenty of traveling beforehand ― including to Arizona, where cases have soared.
Cain joined Trump in actively campaigning against masks. In a tweet sent just before he was admitted to the hospital earlier this month, he praised Trump’s decision not to mandate mask-wearing at the president’s July 4 outdoor rally at Mount Rushmore.
“Masks will not be mandatory for the event, which will be attended by President Trump,” Cain wrote. “PEOPLE ARE FED UP!”
The tweet was deleted after his death Thursday.
Cain rose to prominence in the Tea Party movement after a highly successful corporate career at Pillsbury, Burger King and finally as CEO of Godfather’s Pizza.
His 2012 presidential run gained early traction, aided by the catchy simplicity of his “9-9-9” tax plan. He ultimately suspended the campaign, however, after sexual harassment charges resurfaced and he was accused of having an extramarital affair. Cain vehemently denied any wrongdoing amid the controversy.
Trump offered his condolences to Cain’s family Thursday, eulogizing him on Twitter as “a Powerful Voice of Freedom and all that is good.”
“Herman had an incredible career and was adored by everyone that ever met him, especially me,” Trump wrote. “He was a very special man, an American Patriot, and great friend.”
Former Cain spokeswoman Ellen Carmichael also mourned his passing on Twitter, recalling the man as “a giant of a person in ways that people who would choose to see him merely as a caricature could never understand.”
“His American Dream story is one for the history books,” she wrote. “Overcame absolute destitution, genuine discrimination, stage IV cancer and so much hardship in between.”
Earlier this week, Cain’s team suggested he was on the mend, describing his “organs and systems” as “strong” and thanking people for their prayers.
“Thank you for praying, everyone,” a statement shared on his Twitter account read. “Please keep doing it. He really is getting better, which means it is working.”