(CNN) - Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain maintained Monday that his remarks about building a lethal electrified fence on the U.S.-Mexico border were a joke, but he said he probably should have been more sensitive when choosing his words.
"Yeah, it was a joke, and yeah, I haven't learned how to be politically correct yet," Cain said on CNN's "John King, USA."
Programming note: GOP presidential candidates next face off at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday, October 18, in the CNN Western Republican Presidential Debate in Las Vegas, Nevada. Submit your questions for the debate here.
"So yes, it was probably not the correct thing to say, and I didn't mean to offend anybody."
When asked what he would tell Latinos who might be offended by his remarks, Cain emphasized his plan to help immigrants gain legal citizenship.
"What I would say to them is, I'm all about making it easy for people to come to this country," Cain said. "We have wide-open doors. I have talked repeatedly about wanting to make it easy for people to come to this country the legal way - cleaning up the bureaucracy in Washington, D.C. Those kinds of things never get reported on. But I am all for opening up the doors of this nation."
Cain said a border fence was only one element of his immigration plan.
"I think we need a combination of a physical fence in some instances - we can use technology for some parts - and some of the more dangerous parts, what we need to do is put boots on the ground in order to secure the border," Cain said. "I am tired, like the American people are, of hearing about citizens being killed, citizens being threatened, and some border agents' lives being threatened."
Cain wouldn't respond to a recent analysis that predicts higher taxes for Americans under the candidate's "9-9-9" tax plan.
"I am not going to comment on those calculations, because I don't know what assumptions they used," Cain said. "Here is a fact: It would depend upon what that family spends their money on."
Cain was responding to an analysis by the non-partisan Politifact, which determined that for tax payers who are married with dependents, the 9-9-9 plan would result in higher taxes.
Cain said that under his own calculation, people who buy mostly new goods would end up paying more under his plan, since the 9% sales tax that is included doesn't apply to used goods.
"The people that would pay more are the people who would buy mostly new goods," Cain said. "That's how it will be determined. So since I don't know what people's buying habits will be, it's hard to say who will pay more."
Ultimately, Cain maintained that most people would see a tax reduction.
"Most people won't be paying any more in taxes than they are paying today, probably a lot less," Cain said.
On another issue, Cain told CNN that he would authorize U.S. commanders in Afghanistan to launch a drone strike or fire back into neighboring Pakistan if they had proof that attacks on U.S. soldiers were coming from across the border.
"I wouldn't hesitate to give them the authority to defend themselves and to fight back," Cain said.
–CNN's Tom Cohen contributed to this report.
Mr. Cain please explain the difference between your 9-9-9 plan and Domino Pizza's 5-5-5 coupon?
I watched the clip of Cain"s comment about the fence. It was not a joke. He was speaking to a crowd that wanted to hear that and they got exactly what they wanted. Cain is a looser.
A minority mocking another minority. Oh yeah, he's the one who's gonna stand up for you.
I have some friends that told me a joke about why English didn't electrified some slavery chains 400 years ago. The answer was because the electricity was not developed yet. Was it supposed to be funny ?. Of course not. I didn't like those jokes. I don't like Cain's joke either. His excuses are not acceptable to me.
Let's total up the vote losses so far:
Unemployed? That's your fault (14.0)m votes lost
Poor? That is your fault too (46.2)m votes lost
Black? You're brainwashed and racist (40.2)m votes lost
Hispanic? You or your relatives (and fetuses) should be summarily executed by electrocution for illegal entry haha (50)m votes lost
Current population 311.8m in mid-2011
Obviously these number may over-lap and may include unregisterd voters and children, but as a percentage to total approximate voter make-up. And when you look at any one number as a percentage of the US population you must ask yourself: How intelligent is it to offend that percentage of voters when trying to get elected? How intelligent is it to offend anyone? Is this not an indicator of thinking the poor, the un/under employed, the minorities, just don't count?
Just like a make believe leader. Less tax to pay for obama's give away to big bankers. YA right we will be paying for that for a LOOOONG time. Now another one that is living in a dream world. Just elect me and i will sell america to the chinese to pay for it. What a scam he is running. Wake up america and lets find someone that can put america back on track. Anyone can have a big mouth and promiss anything you want to hear but they are only in it for there buddies and there self.
Israel has a pretty darned big fence and no one is supposed to find it offensive. Why not the same for the USA who supports separation? I actually don't think he was joking.
Political correctness has completely ruined civilization. It destroys original thoughts, opinions and open conversation. It puts the needs of special interest groups ahead of society as a whole. Anyone who thinks an opinion or action can please everyone is a fool.
Herman Cain, if you become another PC robot, you will lose my vote.
Maybe Cain isn't polished in coded euphemisms yet, but he has certainly learned the fine art of pandering to a party base seething with racial and cultural resentment.
We are behind you Cain!
yeah this article is almost as important as Ron Paul's economic platform that was released today
There should be a lethal fence. I don't see what is so wrong with that. They want it, do it legally.