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Here's Why Former Presidential Candidate Herman Cain Was So Obsessed With A Pokémon Song

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If one didn't know better, it would be easy to think one-time presidential candidate Herman Cain is a gamer. His tax plan seems to be ripped straight out of SimCity and his go-to inspiration quote comes from a Pokémon movie. What gives?

GQ recently ran an amazing interview with Cain, who this weekend officially suspended his campaign for President of the United States (quoting Pokémon, and properly attributing it, as he did so.).


In October, three of the magazine's writers (actually a correspondent, senior editor and food critic) sat down with the former chairman and CEO of Godfather pizza and then presidential candidate to discuss a wide range of topics over a table full of deep dish pizzas on a Sunday afternoon.


The interview offers some fascinating insight into Cain, especially how he judges people by the sorts of pizza they eat. Most interesting to me was Cain finally walking us through his bizarre use of a Pokémon song in his election campaign, and it turns out, his life.

In his closing statement during an August Republican Primary debate Cain said:

"A poet once said, 'Life can be a challenge, life can seem impossible, but it's never easy when there's so much on the line."

I guess you could call song writers Mervyn Warren and Mark Chait poets, but the song choice is a bit surprising. That line comes from their song The Power of One, the theme song for Pokémon: The Movie 2000 performed by Donna Summer.


It was GQ's Chris Heath who broached the topic of the Pokémon song during their October pizza party.

Cain says he first heard the song in a collage that NBC put together following the 2000 Olympics. (When questioned about the song earlier this year, he said it was performed at the Olympics. Close.)


Cain says he didn't know that it came from a Pokémon movie until someone told him. That despite the fact that he's apparently been quoting it for years.

"I fell in love with this song, fell in love with how she sang the song, and fell in love with the words," he told Heath. "Committed it to memory. Now, why did I commit it to memory? Because one of the things that I did before I ran for president is I was a professional speaker. Not a motivational speaker-an inspirational speaker. Motivation comes from within. You have to be inspired. That's what I do. I inspire people, I inspire the public, I inspire my staff. I inspired the organizations I took over to want to succeed. I love the song: [almost singing] Life can be a challenge / Life can seem impossible / It's never easy, when there is so much on the line / But you can make a difference. [laughs]"


Cain and the GQ trio also talked about Cain's suspiciously SimCity-esque 9-9-9 tax plan. Cain's plan would replace current taxes with something a bit easier to remember, and chant at campaign stops. Cain's plan would mean a 9 percent business transactions tax, 9 percent personal income tax, and 9 percent federal sales tax. That's the same tax plan that SimCity starts off with. When asked if he got the plan from a game, Cain angrily denied it.


In the GQ interview we finally here a bit more about the impetus for the idea.

It came from Cain's senior economics adviser, Rich Lowrie, who after some number crunching came up with a set of figures that would work. But that number actually wasn't 9, it was 8.75. So why nine, nine, nine?


"I said, 'Rich, That has no marketing legs. Why don't we just call it 9-9-9?' He said, 'Okay, boss.'," Cain told GQ.

And there you have it: Cain's not a gamer, he's just a forgetful, number-rounding politician.


Go check out the full GQ interview when you have the time to hear all about what he thinks a "manly pizza" is and why he believes the number 45 is so important.

A Pizza Party with Herman Cain [GQ]

Pic: Herman Cain by Gage Skidmore.