Herman Cain's drive, energy inspired me to run for office

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It was 2003 and I was planning my Fourth Annual Regional Minority Small Business Conference. My previous events had attracted small, minority and women-owned business owners from Georgia and South Carolina with more than 100 people in attendance. We were expecting similar numbers that year.

But I hadn’t decided on a keynote speaker yet. I ran across some information about a successful and wealthy businessman who owned several Godfather’s Pizza restaurants. Even better, this was a black man who was a perfect match for the caliber of speakers I was accustomed to being a part of our conferences. After I researched a little more, I discovered he was running for the U.S. Senate as a Republican. Sen. Johnny Isakson was in office, and former Rep. Mac Collins also was vying for that seat.

I THOUGHT TO myself: Bingo. What a great opportunity to invite this man to come to Augusta and speak – first and foremost as a successful businessman who could be an inspiration to our small-business community. When I contacted his staff, they immediately returned my call. It took less than 24 hours for him to decide that yes, he would come and speak, and would not charge me a fee. The only thing he wanted to do was bring campaign material for distribution.

This man was Herman Cain, currently a Republican candidate for president of the United States. I had no idea how much this man would affect my life.

I’ve been a registered voter since I was 18. I’ve voted in every election. I was not politically astute by any means. I just knew the importance of voting.

Living overseas in my early formative years, I don’t recall having conversations with my parents about voting for one political party or another. I’ve always voted for who I thought was the best candidate – the candidate who values an ideology closest to mine. So the notion of having this black Republican come and speak in Augusta was not really a big deal to me. Remember, I asked him to be the keynote speaker at the luncheon for my regional minority small-business conference.

As it turned out, it was a big deal – in many ways. We doubled the number of attendees at that year’s conference. The ballroom at the former Sheraton Hotel was packed with curious people, black and white, to hear the luncheon speech of this man running for U.S. Senate who also was a successful, wealthy businessman. He rocked the house. He had people sitting on the edges of their seats. I watched people, who typically vote Democrat no matter what, sitting there nodding their heads in agreement with many of the things he talked about. He didn’t make a campaign speech. He spoke about business and common sense.

He did take a couple of minutes at the end of his speech to talk about key points of his campaign – his first run for political office, by the way. His campaign materials were strategically placed in a room next to the ballroom. After the luncheon, the beeline to that room to meet and greet and shake hands with Herman Cain was absolutely unbelievable. He remained almost two hours after his speech talking with people while the rest of the conference took place in another area of the hotel.

I WAS HOOKED. I made a decision to work on his campaign. I had never worked as hard with a committed drive as I did with him. I even put a bumper sticker on my vehicle, to the dismay of my former pastor who thought I was crazy for having a Republican sticker on my car. I attended events, canvassed neighborhoods, made phone calls and had a great time working in the 2004 race.

I watched how Herman worked his campaign. I learned a lot, but not with the intent of running for political office one day.

Herman and I became friends. He became my mentor – and it wasn’t because I agreed with everything that came out of his mouth. It was so much more. And frankly, I don’t know anyone I totally agree with.

Herman represented the professional and successful type of person I was striving to become. He is an author and motivational speaker. I am an author and inspirational speaker. He later became a radio talk-show host. I am a radio talk-show host.

So in 2005 when I decided to run for mayor of Augusta, I reached out to my friend Herman. He was encouraging, inspiring and candid about running a campaign. He didn’t sugarcoat his pearls of wisdom. He talked to me like a loving father would – someone who had “been there, done that.”

I don’t recall asking him for a donation in that campaign. I really felt the mentorship he provided was much more valuable than money. Then I ran for a Georgia state House seat in 2006, after the unsuccessful run for mayor. Again, I spoke to Herman. He was encouraging and gave me courage.

I remember sitting in the Augusta Marriott talking with him one day. I was able to connect with him on one of his few visits to Augusta. We sat in the restaurant for about an hour and he asked me pointed questions – questions he knew people on the campaign trail would ask me. He was preparing me, but I didn’t know it at the time. He was excited for me. I was excited. He loved my spirit and energy.

I met with him mentally prepared to ask for a contribution. And I did. He looked at me after I asked and didn’t say anything. He was waiting for me to say how much I was asking for. And I told him. He didn’t blink. He told me that I should not ever be hesitant about asking for a donation. He said campaigns take money – lots of it. He said that people will respond in a receptive way when you simply ask and be confident about it. It was wisdom I carried with me throughout the campaign. By the way, he wrote me a check that day.

JUST AS HERMAN Cain inspired me to run for public office, there have been dozens of people over the years who have told me that because I ran for mayor and the House seat, they too were inspired to run. And that is amazing to me. Politics is very personal and emotional.

The relationship I’ve built with Herman over the years has nothing to do with his political affiliation. If he wore the badge of another political party and the story I just shared was the same, he would have still been an inspiration for me to run for office.

The 2005 and 2006 races were two of the most exciting and impactful years in my life that I will cherish forever. I thank Herman Cain for that.

(The writer is a radio talk-show host, published author, life coach and mental-health advocate.)

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southernguy08
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southernguy08 10/16/11 - 08:28 am
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AA's are calling Cain the
Unpublished

AA's are calling Cain the white man's "n" word," as well as Uncle Tom. On his radio show, Fat Al Sharpton questioned whether Cain was "authentically black." I never thought Fat Al could sound even more stupid until I read that. Way to go Al, Obama must be so proud to have you for a supporter. That'll get him re-elected.

billyjones1949
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billyjones1949 10/16/11 - 08:56 am
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I do not know Mr. Cain but he

I do not know Mr. Cain but he is one person I would be glad and honored to know. I wish the best for him in his campaign because I like his ideas.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 10/16/11 - 09:15 am
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Hermain Cain has been vetted

Hermain Cain has been vetted in the real world of business. He has come up through the ranks by performing well on every level. He's not some politician promoted by a slick organization and elected to an office he is obviouly not qualified for. He's also worked his way up from an entry level position to competing for president in the debates and campaign. The real world vets him on every level.

scott-hudson
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scott-hudson 10/16/11 - 09:17 am
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Helen, You are a source of

Helen,
You are a source of inspiration for a lot of people, a true leader in this community and someone we can all be proud of...Thank you for all you do...and yes, this honky is for Herman.
Scott

CorporalGripweed
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CorporalGripweed 10/16/11 - 09:36 am
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Keep up the good work Helen.

Keep up the good work Helen. Now wait for the lefties to come out of the woodwork and call you all sorts of names because you don't (and won't) tow the party line.

yellowdogsc
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yellowdogsc 10/16/11 - 10:04 am
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Helen, I am with Scott

Helen,

I am with Scott Hudson, you are a great friend and inspiration.

TB

Jon Lester
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Jon Lester 10/16/11 - 10:13 am
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I don't know what your income

I don't know what your income bracket is or how the 9-9-9 plan would affect you in particular, but from your tone, I'm pretty sure you never owned stock in Aquila when Cain and his fellow board members took its stock down 92% in value.

david jennings
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david jennings 10/16/11 - 11:53 am
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I don't support President

I don't support President Obama because I don't like his ideaology period.I do support Herman Cain because I do like his ideas and common sense approach. Thank you Ms. Blocker-Adams I enjoyed your guest column.

bjphysics
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bjphysics 10/16/11 - 12:36 pm
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Identity politics is still a

Identity politics is still a powerful motivator. If the Republicans put up a pro-business, social moderate with no racial baggage like Romney; they can then add Cain in the V.P. slot and give waffling African-Americans plenty of wiggle room and ammo to argue with Obama supporters at the local barber shop.

Many Euro-Americans may be unaware of the widely documented African-American irrationally anti-gay social phenomenon described by social scientists as “black hypermasculinity”. Do a google search, the links are too numerous to list but here’s one:

“Homophobia, Hypermasculinity and the US Black Church”

http://www.jstor.org/pss/4005477

While he stomps for the ticket Cain can push the hot button social issue of homosexuality by invoking the repeal of DODT, thus playing the gays-are-gonna-get-our-military-boys-in-the-foxhole-card with his preacher credentials. This will split the African-American vote, just enough, to render it a wash in Southern states. Heck, it might it would probably affect the black vote in New York and New Jersey.

I never underestimate the power of hot button social issues to manipulate the Southern vote and Republican willingness to exploit that phenomenon. Astronomers could announce the pending collision of an asteroid composed of 97% depleted uranium (very heavy stuff) with the Earth and Republicans would denounce the prediction if it was politically advantageous. If Liberals said we need to launch nuclear tipped missiles to deflect its course, Republicans would claim it was a scheme to raise taxes and Fox Noise would join in. When it comes to manipulating votes through the use of unsubstantiated emotional claims no region is riper than the South.

It has been claimed that P. T. Barnum said: "There's a sucker born every minute". If so, perhaps he was referring to a national average because with regard to the South a better assertion might have been:

"There's a sucker born every 15 seconds”.

harley_52
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harley_52 10/16/11 - 01:07 pm
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bjphysics said "It has been

bjphysics said "It has been claimed that P. T. Barnum said: "There's a sucker born every minute". If so, perhaps he was referring to a national average because with regard to the South a better assertion might have been:
"There's a sucker born every 15 seconds”."

One man's opinion.

Another might say the same thing about the North.

Depending on where he said it, neither would be promoting constructive conversation about the topic and would be motivated either by desire for acceptance, or an attempt to pick a fight, depending on the audience. In the latter case, it gets easier as the chance of looking the audience in the eye decreases.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 10/16/11 - 01:22 pm
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bj.....Ya ain't from around

bj.....Ya ain't from around here are ya?

bjphysics
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bjphysics 10/16/11 - 01:37 pm
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seenitB4: “bj.....Ya ain't

seenitB4: “bj.....Ya ain't from around here are ya?”

Army brat, Yankee Green Beret father, spent 63.64% of my life in the South, Fort Benning, Ft. Hood, Ft. Bragg, Ft. Bragg, Ft. Bragg, Ft. Bragg, Ft. Gordon, etc. Getting away broadens your perspective.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 10/16/11 - 01:50 pm
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Barnum didn't say

Barnum didn't say it.....

http://www.historybuff.com/library/refbarnum.html

The real story....:)

bjphysics
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bjphysics 10/16/11 - 02:01 pm
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harley_5: “…it gets easier as

harley_5: “…it gets easier as the chance of looking the audience in the eye decreases.”

Southern to English translation: “I can get you to change your publically announced political opinion, not by the force of well thought-out persuasion and articulate counter argument but by the force of implied physical violence.”

Sounds good it you say it fast keyboard warrior; thank you for validating my claims.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 10/16/11 - 02:15 pm
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http://www.drurywriting.com/d

http://www.drurywriting.com/david/05-Redneck.htm

Just for you bj...I know you secretly want to be a redneck...:O)

harley_52
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harley_52 10/16/11 - 02:20 pm
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bjphysics said "Sounds good

bjphysics said "Sounds good it you say it fast keyboard warrior; thank you for validating my claims."

I'm too old to be a warrior, keyboard or otherwise.

Observing your fondness for spewing juvenile insults when you don't have to make eye contact with your intended target has much less to do with me than it does you.

Bjphysics also said "Southern to English translation"

You just can't help yourself, can you?

Here's a tip, bj, if you're looking for "well thought-out persuasion and articulate counter argument" I think you'll find insulting the audience isn't the most productive method to achieve your goal.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 10/16/11 - 02:29 pm
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Here's a tip, bj, if you're

Here's a tip, bj, if you're looking for "well thought-out persuasion and articulate counter argument" I think you'll find insulting the audience isn't the most productive method to achieve your goal.

Bravo harley---well spoken....heheh
bj...In case ya don't know....we are circling the wagons right now.

allhans
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allhans 10/16/11 - 02:31 pm
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Thank goodness we still have

Thank goodness we still have 12 months left before the primary and the polls will move up and down several times before then. A vote for just any old candidate and Obama is not what we need.
I believe I am beginning to see how Obama got elected.
He promised big things that he knew would never make it through Congress and, of course, change ..uh-huh.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 10/16/11 - 02:33 pm
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bjphysics
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bjphysics 10/16/11 - 02:36 pm
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seenitB4: “bj...In case ya

seenitB4: “bj...In case ya don't know....we are circling the wagons right now.”

Yes I noticed the violent pioneer Winchester at the ready imagery.

If you can’t win by intellect just whip out the gun imagery.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 10/16/11 - 02:38 pm
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allhans I agree the polls

allhans I agree the polls will move up & down....I hope Cain does take his message across the US...though I doubt he will have the millions it takes to win the nomination.

harley_52
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harley_52 10/16/11 - 02:39 pm
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bjphysics said "If you can’t

bjphysics said "If you can’t win by intellect just whip out the gun imagery."

Perhaps you should work on your gun imagery.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 10/16/11 - 02:41 pm
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Ease up on the South

Ease up on the South bj...."sumthin" must be of interest to ya...you seem to love posting here......& sometimes I enjoy your posts.

harley_52
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harley_52 10/16/11 - 02:43 pm
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seenitB4 said "...you seem to

seenitB4 said "...you seem to love posting here...."

Sometimes it's easy to mistake love for $$.

Jane18
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Jane18 10/16/11 - 03:21 pm
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Enjoyed reading Ms. Adams'

Enjoyed reading Ms. Adams' letter, too bad some of our democrat buddies didn't.

Willow Bailey
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Willow Bailey 10/16/11 - 03:45 pm
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It's truly amazing. Neither

It's truly amazing. Neither you nor I could be elected given Obama's background and experience.

He is really a complete a mystery, an unknown, inexperienced junior senator with no accomplishments. Without content to his speeches; he preaches change for the sake of change, but fails to explain in full how that change will be brought about. Calling for change, he paints a visual imagery of how beautiful it will be when this change happens, and then dramatically points his finger at Bush, and any other Republican he can think of to blame for his ideals being held back or blocked. Pretty safe political position for him, he never has to lay out the full plan, and never has to take any real responsibility. It's always someone else's fault and if we will just wait a little longer...real change will come.

We could actually get a list going of how Obama got elected: 1) He promised everything to anyone who does nothing. 2) Scared seniors and Jews with lies 3) Inspired the youth with charismatic double talk 4) Stirred up racial dissention 5) Appealed to the masses with his Change For America 6) Had a network of political corruption 7) The support of TV Celeb/News Reporters 8) And the advantage of the apathy of many who did not vote.

As citizens we have no control of 1-7, but we can do wonders with number 8. Vote, and don't throw your vote away on someone who cannot win.

Chillen
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Chillen 10/16/11 - 03:51 pm
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bjphysics says "Getting away

bjphysics says "Getting away broadens your perspective."

I've lived in several states, several 3rd world countries, visited almost every state and visited many, many foreign countries.

My perspective was broadened. It taught me a few things.
Socialism doesn't work.
Countries with dictators and dictator wanna-be's are dangerous placed to live.
Liberal Americans who complain about our poor have absolutely NO CLUE what poverty really is.
Americans enjoy a very vibrant middle class, yet "some" still complain that "life isn't fair".
The states in the USA with the most liberal politics are not enjoyable places to live and taxes are too high.
Last but not least, it taught me that the USA is the best place in the world. I'm sick & tired of the socialists & marxists trying to "fundamentally transform" it. If you don't like it here for God's sake, please leave and leave us the heck alone.

Yes, it truly does broaden your perspective. Thankfully some of us can speak from experience.

allhans
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allhans 10/16/11 - 04:20 pm
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One thing we might consider

One thing we might consider is whether the candidate can follow through on promises. We all know that 9-9-9 has no chance of becoming law.
Listen carefully and let us not again fall for pipe dreams.

harley_52
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harley_52 10/16/11 - 04:42 pm
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allhans said "...We all know

allhans said "...We all know that 9-9-9 has no chance of becoming law...."

I don't know that. I've heard it, but I'm not convinced. I think it is a good idea, though I'm not conversant with all the details. I don't think the details are available, but I support it in principle.

carcraft
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carcraft 10/16/11 - 05:24 pm
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bjphysics- Fox News may not

bjphysics- Fox News may not be the best but it is far from the worst. If you just listened to the alphabet soup news folks last year you would have missed out on climate gate (until it became absolutly to big not to cover), Van Jones, and Acorn to mention just a couple of news stories. My favorite clip is of Rose and Brokaw discussing Obama at his inauguration, "What do we know about what Obama reads", answer "not much". "What do we know about who he consults", "well we really don't know who those people are" etc, etc etc LOL And these are journalists, what a joke, (worse than my typing ansd spelling). I haven't seen much referance to the Noble Prize winning physicist that resigned from the American Physical Society over what he called the Dogma of Global warming. So too the folks that slam Fox News it is much better than some dizzy dame talking down to me like I am an idiot!

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