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Former President Donald Trump previously said that no “negative effects” came from his rallies during the pandemic, where attendees were not wearing masks or socially distancing. Some of his campaign staffers disagree.
ABC News Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl reported in his new book that many of Trump’s campaign staffers blamed themselves for Herman Cain’s death.
Cain, a businessman and former Republican presidential candidate, died in July 2020 after a weeks-long battle with COVID-19. He was 74. Cain died in an Atlanta-area hospital where he was critically ill after contracting the novel coronavirus, Newsmax reported.
Days before he tested positive, the Trump campaign flew Cain in to a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was photographed not wearing a protective mask. According to an excerpt from Karl’s upcoming book — Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show — published in Vanity Fair Thursday, Cain was hospitalized with COVID-19 10 days later. According to the book, eight Trump staffers also tested positive for the virus.
“We were all trying to figure out who’s testing positive, because we were all thinking, ‘Oh, shit. Was I near that person last night?’” one senior staffer told ABC News reporter Will Steakin shortly after the rally.
It remains unknown where Cain contracted the virus, but one senior Trump campaign staffer blamed the rally, telling Steakin “We killed Herman Cain,” according to Karl’s book, Mediaite reported.
Cain once said that Black people have been “brainwashed” to support liberals.
“African-Americans have been brainwashed into not being open-minded, not even considering a conservative point of view,” Cain said on CNN’s The Situation Room in 2011. “I have received some of that same vitriol simply because I am running for the Republican nomination as a conservative. So it’s just brainwashing and people not being open-minded, pure and simple.”
President Trump briefly considered Cain as his nominee to sit on the Federal Reserve Board, but his name was withdrawn following opposition from some Republican senators.
Cain ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, but ultimately dropped out of the race after several women accused him of sexual harassment and engaging in an extra-marital affair. Cain denied the allegations.
While it is largely believed that Cain contracted the virus at Trump’s rally, both a Cain representative and the White House downplayed the connection after his death. “I don’t think there’s any way to trace this to one specific contact that caused the infection. We’ll never know,” said Dan Calabrese, the editor of Cain’s website, at the time.
Local health officials in Tulsa said in July 2020 that Trump’s rally and the protests that took place there “more than likely” contributed to a surge of COVID-19 cases in the city.
After Cain died of COVID-19, his Twitter account continued to share media disregarding the fatal consequences of the novel coronavirus.
In a now-deleted tweet, the account shared an article with the caption “It looks like the virus is not as deadly as the mainstream media first made it out to be.” The report from The Western Journal explored data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suggesting a majority of COVID-19 patients died of an underlying condition.
Karl’s Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show is set to be released on November 16.
This article contains additional reporting from theGrio’s Gerren Keith Gaynor
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