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Herman Cain to kick off RLC 2012

Presidential candidate Herman Cain will address his former colleagues in the restaurant business with a kick-off presentation at the 2012 Restaurant Leadership Conference, the annual top-to-top event of Restaurant Business and Monkeydish.com.

Cain, a former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza and one-time president of the National Restaurant Association, will explain why he believes a background in the business makes him the best candidate for the White House.

Now the host of a popular radio talk show in Atlanta, Cain has emerged as a serious challenger for the Republican Party nomination. Many pundits have predicted the nod will go to either Texas Gov. Rick Perry or former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a keynote speaker at the 2010 RLC.  But Cain has continued to pull the spotlight away from those frontrunners, besting Perry in a Florida straw poll and dominating the most recent presidential debate with explanations of his so-called 9-9-9 tax plan.

Cain has pledged to replace the complicated current federal tax structure with a simplified one where all individuals and businesses would pay a flat income tax of 9 percent. A 9-percent federal sales tax would also be levied.

The plan drew so much attention during the Oct. 11 candidate debate in New Hampshire that longtime Republican strategist Mark McKinnon declared Cain the winner.

“When a debate spends about a third of the time debating your plan, you win,” McKinnon wrote in The Daily Beast. “People should start taking [Cain] seriously” as a potential nominee.

The keynote address at the 2012 RLC will mark a homecoming of sorts for The Herminator, as many in the industry dubbed him when Cain was active in the business. While working at Godfather’s, which he eventually co-owned as well as ran, and during his affiliation with the NRA, Cain was a frequent speaker at industry events, admired for his booming and emotive oratory.

His restaurant career led to work in public service, including the chairmanship of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas city.

Cain first gained political prominence as a protégé of the late Jack Kemp, a Congressman and Cabinet member in the 1980s. Kemp addressed the RLC right before being named as Sen. Robert Dole’s running mate in the 1996 election.

The RLC is an invitation-only event held annually in Scottsdale, AZ. Last year’s meeting was attended by some 1,400 thought leaders from the chain and supplier sides of the restaurant business.

This year’s conference is themed, “Winning in a Changed World,” with a focus on strategies for navigating the post-Great Recession economy.

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