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.

Also see:

The president goes on the road to promote jobs


White House says aid to teachers will face first Senate vote

Senate Dems consider votes on parts of Obama package

soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. george of the jungle

    999 will really kill the middle class . thats who will have to pay all this extra sales tax. wake up!!! the repo party only wants to keep the middleclass down

    October 17, 2011 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  2. Jake

    Obama is busy remembering MLK and encouraging the world to remember his life and words, and this moron is making jokes about keeping a specific group of people out of our country!!??

    October 17, 2011 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  3. Patrick from Minnesota

    Once again Cain openly insults his voters. If he does it even more there will be none left.

    October 17, 2011 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  4. diridi

    Deport all illegals and visa breakers...that's it...be it Mexican, Indian, Canadian, Pakistani...o.k,

    October 17, 2011 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  5. A Repulbican

    How many nails will it take to seal before he's outahere? I don't know but he's getting close.

    October 17, 2011 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  6. Me

    So, what happens when US citizens go for a little visit to a border town and one stumbles into the fence and gets electrocuted? Or a border patrol agent gets a lethal zap while on the job? Oh yeah, we will all get a good laugh, won't we?

    October 17, 2011 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  7. Which way did he go George ?

    I was thinking of a signs more like "Warning Mine field ahead!" And some "Call before you dig" .
    Enough of the BS from Congress and Obama.

    October 17, 2011 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  8. vet in texas

    Ok Mr. Cain, you have already alienated the following groups:

    Muslims
    African Americans
    unemployed
    Jews
    and now Hispanics

    Keep talking candidates, and when you lose, blame yourself as Mr. Cain says.

    October 17, 2011 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  9. John K.

    How about a minefield instead of an electric fence? (not kidding)

    October 17, 2011 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  10. Angy

    he meant every word. the rethugs can not be trusted!!!!!!

    October 17, 2011 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  11. Woman In California

    He's a low life who hides and thrives off the work of others. The CHC should RIP him apart and make him get on his four hind legs and give an apology. All of his "jokes" seem to be targeted specificaly at minorities. I guess he thinks they bring more "laughter".

    (R)s in general seem to think letting people die (without health insurance), torture, and execution are laughing matters. I'll be laughing too when they are ALL extinct. The sooner the better.

    October 17, 2011 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  12. Peggy - TX

    Electrical fence over a long stretch of land is not practical by any standard. It may work to some degree to keep animals out, but it would be wholly ineffective against humans, who could and would easily undermine the electrical properties of the fence with out themselves being hurt. I could do it in 10 minutes and I have no special skills. Electrical fences may be effective in a prison situation, where the fence itself is carefully guarded and maintain, but not over 10s of miles, let alone 100s of miles. To even entertain the idea as practical indicates the just how delusional GOPers tryuly are.

    October 17, 2011 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  13. We ALL Know, Mami

    Ah, the godfather thinks he can simply fry the Mexican coming across the border. maybe he needs to lurn hisself sum sumpting from the Taco Bell chihuahua...

    Heck, he'd probably fry him too [but that po' li'l doggy et hisself to 'ternal sleep]

    Cain just refired his campiagn here... and maybe even for all GOPers, including the ones that really do have a chance...

    October 17, 2011 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  14. Al-NY,NY

    Typical GOP behavior....say something stupid, then claim it was a joke, or taken out of context, or wasn't mean for public exposure. How many of these clowns are going to get caught before they get a clue?

    October 17, 2011 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  15. GOP = Greed Over People

    Cain has yet to learn that the red meat he tosses out at the teabaggers does not work so well on the general population.

    October 17, 2011 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  16. New Age Independent

    Not the best choice of words, perhaps. Liberals don't get the point he was trying to make that Democrats have never taken the issue seriously. The reality is that liberals have joked about border security and how our own citizens have been killed as a result of the continued resistance to secure the border by Democrats. His words are still far better than the liberal doctrine of awarding those who would come across illegally.

    October 17, 2011 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  17. Arthur V. Flores

    Why an electrical fence? Why not just put posters all over the southwest saying."Rewards for Mexicans scalps"," just shoot on sight". That for sure will get you all the conservatives votes.

    October 17, 2011 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  18. ryanrory

    Cain is an idiot. Talking point solutions, half baked schemes that seem to favour the rich. But hey he 's got balls and that makes him the flavour of the week. To me it seems more like the media has been the driver of his perceived rise in the polls. Over all to me he seems like a very negative presumptuous person. Certainly not presidential material.

    October 17, 2011 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  19. DJ in Texas

    Is everything a joke to Mr. Cain? He steps in it, then backtracks by saying it was a joke. You don't joke about killing people. Hey I'm all for border security (and I'm a Democrat), but this statement just shows that even though he says he's an "outsider", his rhetoric is just like any politician "pandering" to the far right. If Bachman didn't agree..........and she's so far right, you can't reach her.........then it's a little extreme. Mr. Cain, don't trivalize everything by saying it was a joke. Just admit the mistake and keep going, like all other politicians who says dumb things.

    October 17, 2011 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  20. Bill

    The GOP lost this segment of the voting population long ago. Comments like Cain made only reinforce why that is true.

    October 17, 2011 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  21. T'sah from Virginia

    Oh, oh – are the Hispanics "brainwashed" too??????

    October 17, 2011 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  22. No joke just dope

    If he or another candidate had said anything about electric fences and African-Americans, he would be toast. As a hispanic person (yes a citizen, viet nam veteran, etc.) I find the joke racist and tasteless. Herman you are a real sad case.

    October 17, 2011 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  23. Me

    Great, an electrified fence. And how will we make sure it's electrified only on the Mexican side? Perhaps Cain would like to test it out for us?

    October 17, 2011 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  24. road runner

    I agree we do need a twenty foot electrified fence on the border. maybe just maybe it would stop some of
    the illegals and help the american taxpeying citizen.

    October 17, 2011 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  25. road runner

    Whatever it takes to stop the foreign invaders.

    October 17, 2011 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
1 2