In their coverage of Herman Cain's official announcement that he is a candidate for the Republican nomination for President of the United States, Associated Press reporters Shannon McCaffrey and Greg Bluestein limited their description of Cain's tenure as chief executive of Godfather's Pizza to the following:
He worked at Coca-Cola, Pillsbury and Burger King before taking the helm of the failing Godfather's Pizza franchise, which he rescued by shuttering hundreds of restaurants.
That's all he did, eh? Guys, if that's all you could cobble together about Cain's time at Godfather's, you should have ended the excerpted sentence after "franchise" (for which a better word would have been "chain").
The AP pair also omitted a couple of key elements of Cain's resume, specifically his tenure as head of the National Restaurant Association and his involvement as a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, where he ultimately was elected chairman.
Here is a description of Cain's tenure at Godfather's found at a site called PizzaDominoes.com:
... in 1986, several franchises of Godfathers Pizza plummeted. And the pizza chain struggled to beat its competitors. So, Pillsbury selected Herman Cain to be the new president of Godfather’s. Cain had previously rescued some Burger King chains from bankruptcy; thereby earning him a remarkable reputation. And with his leading abilities, he managed to settle some lawsuits, eliminated non-profitable units, introduced more products, and arranged for delivery services. As a result, the pizza chain gradually went back to its feet. Plus, newer pizzas attracted more customers. The mouthwatering bacon cheeseburger pizza and fruit-filled cherry and apple dessert pizzas were introduced.
Moreover, Godfather’s Pizza focused on a one-number delivery system to compete with other pizza chains’ home delivery systems. Fortunately, this system had worked and Godfather’s eventually expanded. Furthermore, several humorous commercials were aired. This was the pizza chain’s attempt to increase public awareness of its products and add a fun concept. Godfathers Pizza also introduced products to pubic schools. It developed fun games that were related to pizzas. So, teachers used these games to encourage young students to master mathematical basics. And the students who performed well were given rewards.
So you see, Ms. McCaffrey and Mr. Bluestein, Cain's success at Godfather's wasn't just about shutting down restaurants and (wink, wink) sending people to the unemployment line. It was about growth and innovation.
Here's what Cain's web site says about his Godfather's experience and the two significant resume items the AP reporters ignored, plus the 1994 encounter with Bill Clinton that first brought him to the nation's attention (and which the AP did mention):
I could have been content with my executive role with one of America’s biggest corporations. Instead, after consulting with my wife, we decided to take one of the biggest risks of our marriage: picking up our young family, relocating yet again and accepting the call to become CEO and President of Godfather’s Pizza, a company teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.
In 14 months, we turned the company around and returned it to profitability, and I ultimately led my management team to a buyout of Godfather’s Pizza. The company never went bankrupt, and today, there are still hundreds of locations across the U.S.
My success at turning around Godfather’s got the attention of fellow restaurateurs around the nation who invited me to join the Board of Directors of the National Restaurant Association and later elected me its chairman. In 1996, they retained me as the full-time President and the CEO of the National Restaurant Association, working on behalf of thousands of small businesses and entrepreneurs.
... In 1994, as chairman of the National Restaurant Association, I had the opportunity to speak with President Clinton during a nationally televised town hall meeting. Here, I challenged the President regarding the impact on businesses if his health care overhaul proposal were passed.
President Clinton attempted to assure me and the millions of viewers watching at home that his legislation would not harm American business owners and their employees.
I was skeptical. “Quite honestly Mr. President, your calculations are incorrect,” I said. “In the competitive marketplace, it simply doesn’t work that way.”
Through these and other appearances on behalf of the National Restaurant Association, I began working with business leaders across all sectors of the American economy. This led to my acceptance of a position on the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, and I was subsequently elected their chairman.
Cain's official announcement speech is at his campaign's home page.
Back in January, the Politico's Ben Smith characterized Cain's candidacy as "quixotic." In the same item, here's how he described the Godfather's chain: "Godfather's still exists, mostly attached to convenience stores." Uh, Ben, the chain has 620 stores, and "still exists" as the eighth-largest in the country (as of 2009). Though there aren't any Godfather's locations in Ohio, where yours truly resides, I tend to doubt that most of the chain's locations are "attached to convenience stores." And even if they are, being Number 8 hardly qualifies as "still exists."
One gets the sense that Smith's description of Herman Cain's prospects is as inaccurate as his breezy putdown of Cain's former company.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.