Herman Cain, the Godfather's Pizza magnate who twice ran for president and was briefly considered as a potential Federal Reserve Board nominee under President Donald Trump, was hospitalized Wednesday and is being treated for the coronavirus.
Cain, 74, was told Monday that he had tested positive for the disease, according to a statement posted to his official Twitter account. By Wednesday, he "had developed symptoms serious enough that he required hospitalization," the statement said.
Cain is currently being treated at an Atlanta-area hospital, the statement said, where he is "resting comfortably" and is "awake and alert."
On Wednesday – two days after Cain was said to have tested positive – he tweeted his apparent support for South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem's decision not to require mask-wearing or social distancing during Trump's upcoming visit to Mount Rushmore.
"Masks will not be mandatory for the event, which will be attended by President Trump," Cain tweeted. "PEOPLE ARE FED UP!"
Cain is not on a ventilator and is doing well, his staff told Newsmax, the conservative news outlet where Cain has worked as a contributor since April.
A spokeswoman for Cain could not immediately be reached for comment.
Last month, Cain attended Trump's much-hyped rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the kickoff event for the president's reelection bid after the coronavirus pandemic forced him off the campaign trail for months.
Critics, including local public health officials, had urged Trump to postpone the rally, warning that hosting a large gathering of people could spread the disease.
Cain posted a photograph of himself at the June 20 rally sitting in close proximity to other attendees, none of whom appeared to be wearing masks, as many health officials currently advise.
Days later, Cain wrote in The Western Journal that "the media worked very hard to scare people out of attending the Trump campaign rally last Saturday night in Tulsa." Cain wrote that the rally was a success and disputed criticisms about underwhelming turnout at the event.
At least half a dozen members of Trump's campaign staff who helped prepare the rally in Tulsa had tested positive for the coronavirus before the event. The campaign assured at the time that "no COVID-positive staffers or anyone in immediate contact will be at today's rally or near attendees and elected officials."
Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh told NBC News in a statement that Cain "did not meet with the President" at the Tulsa rally.
In the Twitter statement Thursday, Cain's staff wrote, "There is no way of knowing for sure how or where Mr. Cain contracted the coronavirus, but we do know he is a fighter who has beaten Stage 4 cancer."
"With God's help, we are confident he will make a quick and complete recovery," the statement said.
Cain had served in leadership roles at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City between 1989 and 1996. He later became a player in Republican politics as an economic advisor to Bob Dole's 1996 presidential campaign before briefly launching his own bid in 2000.
In the 2012 GOP presidential primary season, Cain gained outsized media coverage with his catchy "9-9-9" economic plan to replace much of the federal tax code with a 9% business transactions tax, a 9% personal income tax and a 9% sales tax. Critics called the plan "dubious" and impractical.
Cain suspended that campaign in December 2011 following accusations of sexual harassment, which he denied.
Cain regained the media's attention in April 2019, when Trump announced that he was considering nominating Cain to the Federal Reserve Board.
Within a month, however, Trump tweeted that his "truly wonderful" friend had "asked me not to nominate him for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board."
Cain said at the time that "people who hate me" are "already digging up the negative stuff that are in stories from eight years ago ... I'm not going to let the accusers run my life or determine my career."