In a post earlier this month announcing Cain’s Covid-19 diagnosis, Calabrese said they “have no idea” where Cain had contracted the virus.
“I realize people will speculate about the Tulsa rally, but Herman did a lot of traveling the past week, including to Arizona where cases are spiking,” Calabrese wrote.
Earlier this month, Cain appeared to support the decision not to require masks for Trump’s July 4 celebration event at Mount Rushmore.
In commentary videos for his website that aired in June, Cain called on Americans to wear face masks, saying that the guidance now shows its effectiveness.
Trump began his remarks at a news briefing Thursday by expressing his sadness at Cain’s death, sending prayers to Cain’s wife and “wonderful family.”
“He was a very special person, and I got to know him very well,” the President said, “And unfortunately he passed away from a thing called the China virus.”
Trump was using a term to refer to the novel coronavirus that CNN has determined is both inaccurate and stigmatizing, after consulting with medical experts and receiving guidance from the World Health Organization.
Trump also paid tribute to Cain on Twitter Thursday afternoon.
“Herman had an incredible career and was adored by everyone that ever met him, especially me,” Trump tweeted. “He was a very special man, an American Patriot, and great friend.”
Successful career in business predated White House bid
In 2006, Cain was given a 30% chance of survival from stage 4 colon cancer that had spread to his liver. He underwent chemotherapy and surgery to remove the cancer from his liver and was declared cancer-free in 2007.
He began his corporate career in the mid-70s working for Coca-Cola, went on to work for the Pillsbury Company in 1977 and climbed the corporate ladder to eventually be named CEO of Godfather’s. He later led the National Restaurant Association, lobbying on Capitol Hill.
Cain also worked as a civilian employee for the Department of the Navy early in his career.
Cain had also sought the GOP nomination for a US Senate seat in Georgia in 2004, finishing second in the primary to Johnny Isakson.
He is survived by his wife, Gloria, and their two children, Melanie and Vincent, and grandchildren.
This story has been updated to include additional background information and reaction.
CNN’s Nikki Carvajal and Caroline Kelly contributed to this report.