Hispanic caucus chairman rips Cain's border fence "joke"
October 17th, 2011
04:49 PM ET
3 years ago

Hispanic caucus chairman rips Cain's border fence "joke"

Washington (CNN) – The head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus is calling out GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain for controversial remarks he made over the weekend that if he was in charge he'd build an "electrified" 20-foot high US-Mexico border fence with a sign displayed "that says it will kill you."

The businessman and radio host has since said he was joking. But Texas Democratic Rep Charlie Gonzalez is not laughing and released a written statement Monday criticizing Cain.

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.

"Words have consequences, both in shaping ideas and inspiring actions. Whether or not he made his comments in jest, Mr. Cain's words show a lack of understanding of the immigration issues our country is facing and a staggering lack of sensitivity," Gonzalez said.

Cain made the comments at a campaign stop in Tennessee on Saturday.

But on Sunday he emphasized in an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" that the comments were meant as a joke.

"I've also said America needs to get a sense of humor. That was a joke, OK," Cain said.

But Gonzalez ripped the Georgia businessman's attempt at humor.

"I see nothing funny about killing other human beings. Leave the comic routines to the professional comedians," Gonzalez said.

The Hispanic Caucus Chairman called on Cain to instead focus on comprehensive immigration reform and urged other Republican presidential candidates to immediately "repudiate" the comments.

Cain's campaign did not have an immediate response to Gonzalez' criticism.

But earlier Monday Minnesota Republican Rep Michele Bachmann echoed Gonzalez' sentiment about the tone of Cain's remarks, saying in Arizona, "this is no laughing matter, the border fence." Bachmann supports building a fence along the border.

Cain will be joining most of the 2012 GOP field in the CNN Western Republican presidential debate on Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. The state is attracting a lot of attention from Republican candidates because its GOP caucus on January 14, 2012 is among the handful of early states voting, and it is the first western state. With Hispanics making up over a quarter of the state's population the debate over how to respond to illegal immigration is already a flashpoint among the candidates.

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soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. FRANK - LAS VEGAS

    If it was really a joke, he would have laughed when he said it to indicate to everyone that it was indeed a joke. But alas, no laugh then and no one is laughing now. the only joke is Cain.

    October 17, 2011 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  2. tom

    Michele Bachmann is in favor of building a fence...along the border. Are you kidding me? How do these people even come close to being elected? I actually can't believe that someone, even Bachmann, is stupid enough to suggest something like that. What kind of terrible sin did America commit to deserve these damned politicians?

    October 17, 2011 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  3. David in Cincinnati

    "Just joking!" This is about as much a joke as the 9-9-9 plan for taxing the middle class above the wealthy. Then there's Huckabee's joke about letting the air out of Ohioans' tires to prevent voting against Issue 2 that would restrict collective bargaining. Why are these people so ugly??? Oh, sorry, I was just joking.

    October 17, 2011 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  4. Rudy NYC

    diridi wrote:
    Deport all illegals and visa breakers...that's it...be it Mexican, Indian, Canadian, Pakistani...o.k,
    -----------
    The problem is a lot more complex than that. Let's put aside the issue of getting the countries to accept the people.

    One problem is that a large percentage of the illegals are not known by the governments in their countries of origin. Not all of them come from urban areas. In fact, a great many of them are coming from rural areas and are "off the radar" of their native government census roles. So when we ask country A to accept person B, the country may say they never heard of the person and they would be telling the truth, despite the fact that person B is in fact from country A.

    October 17, 2011 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  5. Dani

    Not to worry, folks. This Cain idiot is gonna fall long and hard. Go get some popcorn and enjoy the circus acts brought to you by the GOPTeaParty!

    October 17, 2011 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  6. kayla

    i was joking? what a fool. the video did not show you laughing. somehow these people think the american people are idiots.

    October 17, 2011 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  7. Maria Luisa Villella Rodio Fernandez

    I think all of you (Americans) are forgetting that Mr. President Barack Obama inherited this mess from George W. Bush.
    It will take more than 4 years to fix your economy. And if you want to pay the deficit, the only way you can do it is to increase taxes dor everybody, like Canada. The more you make money the more you pay taxes. It makes sense.

    October 17, 2011 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    Cain is sealing his own fate with his clear lack of presidential ability. He's constantly making extreme remarks and having to pretend he really doesn't mean what he said. Join Bachman and Perry in the corner, wearing dunce caps.

    October 17, 2011 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  9. Comment to Me

    I don't know many towns that would be located right by the electric fence, if there was one.

    October 17, 2011 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  10. Raul

    These Teapublicans are crass and insensitive to say the least. But hey that goes over well for soooooo many Americans. Sad commentary on the state of US sensibilities.

    October 17, 2011 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  11. Abel

    I just want to say that Martin L king would be rolling in his grave if he could hear the comments that Herman Cain said about the electric fence along the U.S. and Mexican border.. Mr King was a proud black man and well admired by millions of people, today he would be ashamed to call himself a black man because of stupid comments like Cain made. In my opinion Cain should be kicked out of the GOP and any other office he holds. He a very dangerous man,but again this is just my opinion.

    October 17, 2011 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    "urged other Republican presidential candidates to immediately "repudiate" the comments."

    Newsflash: REPUDIATE IS A WORD. It in no way belonged in quotes there no matter how much you desperately wish to hint at Jabberwocky Barbie's imbecilic mish-mash of that word with the word "refute" to babble "reFudiate" and assault the nation's collective intelligence. If the guy used the word "repudiate" and you wanted to quote him...you needed to quote more of what he said.

    October 17, 2011 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  13. Scott

    Mine field sounds good.

    October 17, 2011 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  14. mac58

    The Mexican Caucus needs to back this country if they want to be continued to be called Americans as illegals are affecting them as the rest of America and our national security.

    October 17, 2011 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  15. mac58

    Just in 8 billion to build a fence along to border here safeguarding Americans while we spend 2 billion a week in Afghanistan and add the cost for Iraq,Libya,Israel etc. seems cheap to me.

    October 17, 2011 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  16. ray

    It was a joke people! He was absolutely right when he said America needs to get a sense of humor.

    October 17, 2011 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  17. Rick McDaniel

    Here's a message for Gonzalez......I would support Cain's idea, and here's why.......NOTHING LESS WILL STOP THE TRAFFIC!

    October 17, 2011 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  18. CheeseSteak

    Here's the forecast...
    Herman Cain wins in '12. Goes to a G20 summit in Tokyo and accidently farts while bowing to the Chinese premier. Offended, Lin Cho Chow Zhow calls in the national debt and Cain is forced to issue God Father Pizza vouchers to the American People who are now living in refridgerator boxes. Cain is declared the best President of all time by the Tea Party who have to disband because their last pickup truck and only form of transportation was reposessed by Hyundai

    October 17, 2011 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  19. ED FL

    CAIN and Mccain are 2 peas in a pod.Hateful bigots that make up most of the GOP that want to see the less fortunate get by except to be servants to these greedy Politcians. They can now join hands and tip toe through the Tulips and cry because both have now become failures as politicians that want to be President. America wins again.

    October 17, 2011 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  20. Hair bear

    Mr Cain said exactly what he mint this was no joke. Most people like to say what others are thinking but this guy is a Big joke. He forgot were he came from now he's on top of the world. Well Mr Cain were not buying it.

    October 17, 2011 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  21. theantiantihero

    When a candidate makes one dumb statement after another, you kinda have to wonder. Is it all just a coincidence?

    October 17, 2011 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  22. Gio in San Diego

    As a Hispanic living in a border town, I find his comment HIGHLY offensive. If he wants to build his "fence" that's fine, I just hope he remembers to build fences around the violent hoods he probably came from as well...

    October 17, 2011 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
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