Herman Cain: Former Biz Whiz? Try Lobbyist

GOP hopeful fought smoking bans, minimum wage increases
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 23, 2011 5:50 PM CDT
Herman Cain Came to Washington as Restaurant Lobbyist
Herman Cain speaks to a gathering of conservative Christians at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition Presidential Forum on October 22, 2011 in Des Moines, Iowa.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Herman Cain is known as the former CEO of Godfather's Pizza and an upstart GOP presidential candidate. But between those pursuits, he filled his Washington Rolodex as a highly effective industry lobbyist in the late 1990s, the New York Times reports. His industry: restaurants. His major issues: fighting smoking bans, opposing the lowering of blood-alcohol limits for drunk drivers, and battling an increase in the minimum wage.

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As head of the National Restaurant Association, Cain propelled the once-sleepy trade group to No. 15 on Fortune magazine's "Power 25" list in Washington. He came up with catchy strategy names like "Mo, Me, Mo"—for "motivation, message, momentum"—and forged relationships with heavy GOP hitters like Newt Gingrich and Steve Forbes. “We were not on the radar before him,” says a former chair of the restaurant association, who one day saw Colin Powell pull over and step out of his car to hug Cain. "I remember how impressed I was, seeing that." (Read more Herman Cain 2012 stories.)

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