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When you dig into the entirety of someone’s life you have to sit and wonder how someone had the time to accomplish all of the things that they managed to accomplish.

Herman Cain was one of those people that you look at his life and you have to scratch your head at all of the things that he did.

If you count all of the accomplishments in this great man’s life you would almost think that he was really secret triplets.

Herman Cain’s handsome glass-walled office overlooks the first fairway of the Eagle’s Landing Country Club in this exurb of Atlanta, about 20 miles south of Hartsfield Airport. It is here that the 65-year-old Cain planned to spend what he calls his “cruise control” years — time spent not exactly in retirement, but at an easier pace than a business career that included stints as CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, president of the National Restaurant Association, and chairman of the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank.

“Cruise control” it’s not. These days, or at least this moment, Herman Cain, long a favorite of Tea Party activists, is one of the hottest names in the Republican primary race. For most of the party, Cain wasn’t even a blip on the radar until the May 5 GOP debate in Greenville, South Carolina — or, more accurately, the moments after the debate, when Republican pollster Frank Luntz conducted a focus group on Fox News and found near-unanimous agreement that Cain was the winner. “I’ve done maybe 35 or 40 of these debates for Fox, and I’ve never had this kind of reaction,” Luntz said. “Something very special happened this evening.”

Many political insiders viewed the debate mostly as an opportunity for former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty to move up into the first tier of GOP candidates. Instead, people left Greenville’s Peace Center talking about Herman Cain — a result that few participants, including Cain himself, could have predicted.

“I was just stunned, shocked,” Cain says of the moment he saw, on a green-room television, that Luntz’s group declared him the winner. When his staff hurried to take him to the media room for an interview with Sean Hannity, Cain asked for a few minutes to sit down, catch his breath, and collect his thoughts. Although he has had some success as a talk-radio host in recent years, he had no idea of the impression he would make on viewers. “You know how fickle people’s perceptions can be,” he says.

To call Cain an unlikely candidate is an understatement. He is black, southern, a survivor of a fairly recent and very serious bout with cancer, a failed candidate for U.S. Senate, and a man best known as the chief executive officer of a mid-size national pizza chain. Yes, Republicans are drawn to captains of industry — but the pizza industry?

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