Herman Cain announced his candidacy for the presidency today, which I'm sure prompted those who heard about it to ask, "Who?"
And to be honest about it, that would have been my reaction about a month ago, when I had never heard the name either. But in early May, Cain took part in a panel discussion - Fox News called it a "debate," but it really wasn't a debate in the classic sense - with other presidential wanna-bees, including former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
I didn't watch the discussion, but the next day I heard someone on the radio raving about how good Herman Cain was, and later in the day someone said to me "That Herman Cain guy was really good," and the two references in the span of a couple hours piqued my curiosity.
So, off I went to the internet to look for video clips and learn what I could about Herman Cain. And what I found was pretty interesting. First of all, he WAS very good in the debate. This blogger thought so, and provides clips of both the debate and the focus group reaction afterwards.
When I went to read his bio, I became even more impressed. Raised in Georgia, by parents who worked as a cleaner and a chauffeur, Cain graduated from Morehouse College with a degree in math, and later added a Master's in Computer Science from Purdue while also working full-time for the Department of the Navy.
He then entered the business world, and became a Vice-President at Pillsbury, then was later named CEO of their Godfather's Pizza subsidiary. He then organized a group of investors to buy Godfather's from Pillsbury, and remained CEO until he left to become head of the National Restaurant Association. He was later named to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City, and became both an author and radio host.
He had a moment of fame in the early 1990s, when he went toe-to-toe with President Clinton at a town hall meeting and carried the moment in a debate over Clinton's proposed health care plan.
It's a resume that really speaks to me, chock-full of private sector, real-world experience, a sharp intellect and an ability to articulate conservative positions. You can read more about him and a detailed bio here.
It's hard to imagine that someone with less than 1% name recognition in May of 2011 could be elected President in 18 months, and the last time someone did something close to that (Jimmy Carter) it produced the worst presidency of the 20th century. But at least for now, I'm intrigued, and would urge people to pay some attention to the guy.