Jane Chastain is a Southern California-based broadcaster, author and political commentator. Despite her present emphasis on politics, Jane always will be remembered as the nation's first female TV sportscaster, spending 17 years on the sports beat. Jane blogs at JaneChastain.com. She is a pilot who lives on a private runway.More ↓Less ↑
Introducing Herman Cain, the GOP presidential candidate who just won the Florida straw poll by a landslide, as the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza is an insult.
Don’t get me wrong. It is remarkable that the son of a chauffeur and domestic worker could become the chairman and CEO of one of the nation’s most successful fast-food franchises. However, there is so much more to this man’s resume. Simply brushing off Cain as an anomaly or a pizza king is belittling.
It’s tantamount to introducing Mitt Romney as the former CEO of Bain Capitol, Newt Gingrich as a history teacher or Jon Huntsman as a trade representative. These men put in a number of years at the aforementioned jobs; however, these jobs do not define them. Introductions of this sort would ignore their later and greater accomplishments. So it is with Cain.
That said, there is something in Herman Cain’s Godfather experience that bears further scrutiny.
Mr. Cain, a former Pillsbury vice president, was sent by the company to the pizza chain to try to salvage the franchise. He rejected the idea of what amounted to an economic stimulus from the parent company – dumping more money into marketing. Instead, he spent two months analyzing the franchise. Then, he began to rebuild it from the ground up.
Godfather’s had tried to become everything pizza. It had developed a Pizza Hut knock-off, a Little Caesar’s knock-off, a Domino’s knock-off plus the original Godfather’s speciality pizzas, all with a variety of crusts. The kitchen was a nightmare. The employees were always playing catch-up. There was a lot of waste, and the results were – like our government – less than satisfying.
Herman Cain cut the menu down to size and went back to the basics. He simplified the kitchen and put the emphasis on doing the kind of pizzas that originally put Godfather’s on the map. Fewer choices, just THE BEST. He also retrained and energized the employees. The rest is history.
In just 14 short months, Mr. Cain turned the chain around. Then he put together a group of investors to buy the franchise from Pillsbury, remaining at its helm. It was a win-win for everyone. Cain went on to become CEO of the National Restaurant Association, representing an industry that is this nation’s largest private-sector employer. He later served as director and then chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
The government needs Herman Cain’s Godfather’s solution. We have tried to be all things to all people. It doesn’t work. We are sinking further and further into debt, and no one is happy. If the United States were a business, it would be a failing business.
We are experiencing hard times and we need a proven businessman who isn’t afraid to make the hard decisions. We need to go back to the basics: a land where the federal government’s job is limited to the duties clearly defined in the Constitution; a land where you are free to farm and grow what you wish or start a business free of government red tape and intervention; a land where everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed, not one in which the government picks winners and losers.
Presently. there are two proven businessmen in the race. Mitt Romney will not admit that government-run health care – from the state or the federal government – is a bad idea. He has a set of ever changing positions on the issues that seem to reflect the latest public opinion polls.
The other businessman is not just a pizza king. Herman Cain has a solid background and knows his way around Washington and the world. He was not a child of privilege nor of government set asides or handouts. He never asked or expected special favors. He came up the hard way and he earned every dime he ever made. He is plain-spoken and not given to complicated solutions or political correctness.
That’s what the voters see in Herman Cain, and they like what they see.
It’s true. He’s never been elected to public office. No matter.
In 1952, we elected a revered military leader with no political experience, Dwight D. Eisenhower, to be our 34th president. He turned out to be one of our best presidents. Ike assembled a group of exceptional people to be in his administration. He knew how to gather information, analyze it and make decisions.
That is Herman Cain’s forte. Yes, we need someone who knows how to run a profitable business – and Florida Republicans believe, if given a chance, Cain can make this a profitable nation. They believe in the Godfather’s solution.