Like much of his life, Cain’s illness and death were marked by politics, personality and press coverage.
Less than two weeks before his diagnosis, Cain had attended Trump‘s late-June campaign rally in Oklahoma.
Cain, the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza who became famous during the 2012 GOP presidential primary for his catchy “9-9-9” tax plan, had been briefly considered to become a Trump nominee for the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Cain remained a vocal supporter of the president after his nomination was withdrawn.
At the campaign rally – which was denounced by health officials, who warned it could become a “superspreader” for the virus – Cain posed for a photograph showing him sitting in the Tulsa arena surrounded by a group of other Trump supporters.
Neither Cain nor the others in the photo were wearing masks or abiding by federal recommendations for maintaining a safe social distance.
Critics were quick to point out the potential connection between Cain’s attendance at the Trump campaign’s large, in-person gathering and his critical illness shortly thereafter.
“I realize people will speculate about the Tulsa rally, but Herman did a lot of traveling the past week,” Calabrese wrote on Cain’s blog. “I don’t think there’s any way to trace this to the one specific contact that caused him to be infected. We’ll never know.”
Trump, who has defended his rally and subsequent campaign events, denied after Cain’s death that the former pizza executive had contracted the virus in Tulsa.
“No, I don’t think he did,” Trump said Friday when asked if he thought Cain caught Covid-19 at the rally.