Electric fence remark was a joke, Cain says
October 16th, 2011
03:53 PM ET
9 years ago

Electric fence remark was a joke, Cain says

Washington (CNN) - GOP presidential contender Herman Cain walked back comments Sunday that he made a day earlier when he called for a deadly electric fence on the United States-Mexico border.

"That's a joke," Cain said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "I've also said America needs to get a sense of humor. That was a joke, OK."

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.

Cain made the fence comments Saturday at a Tennessee rally while kicking off his bus tour to promote his "9-9-9" tax plan.

Speaking to the crowd, Cain recalled a conversation he had on his conservative radio talk show with a caller who argued against building a fence to prevent illegal immigration.

But Cain said he fought back, telling the caller:

"When I'm in charge of the fence, we going to have a fence. It's going to be 20 feet high. It's going to have barbed wire on the top. It's going to be electrocuted, electrified," Cain said. "And there's going to be a sign on the other side that says it will kill you."

Cain, who's surged to the top of the Republican presidential field to join fellow front-runner Mitt Romney, said he was only kidding about the remark.

"That's not a serious plan," Cain said Sunday.

Cain's comment Sunday comes one day before he's set to meet with Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the high-profile Arizona law enforcement officer known for cracking down on illegal immigration. According to the sheriff's office, Monday will mark the second meeting for Cain and Arpaio in the last three months.

"I’m anxious to hear Herman Cain’s position on a variety of issues, directly from him and not through the prism of media interpretation,” Arpaio said in a statement.

In the interview Sunday, Cain went on to explain his immigration plan, which includes securing the border using a physical fence, new technology and, if needed, troops on the ground. He also argued for stronger enforcement of laws already in place and called for a tighter bureaucracy.

–CNN's Steve Brusk contributed to this report.

Also see:

Axelrod strikes Romney, says Perry could bounce back

Gingrich: Cain has strong shot at nomination

Bachmann raises almost $4 million, but spends nearly $6 million

McCain to Perry: Get some rest

Filed under: 2012 • Herman Cain • Immigration
soundoff (231 Responses)
  1. rapierpoint

    For those complaining about Cain's lack of experience...one word...Obama.
    For those complaining about Cain's off the cuff remarks (which many are absurd jokes – which is a valid style)...one word Obama... who after hearing that one of his friends was arrested, off the cuff, called a police officer childish and criticized law enforcement. (And he never went back and said it was a joke...because it wasn't). Virtually everything I'm hearing people criticize Cain for, we've got in Obama with interest to spare.
    As far as America getting a sense of humor, yes, America needs to wake up, quit being so full of themselves and realize that humor is important. At least Cain isn't as big a joke as electing Al Franken to the Senate.

    October 17, 2011 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  2. Tony in Maine

    Either Cain jokes almost continuously or his beliefs are so outrageous that most Americans don't share them. In either case, he is not fit to be the President of our country. Please go back to whatever it was before your megalomania exploded, Mr. Cain.

    October 17, 2011 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  3. AndYetStill

    Why are people surprised. Reps already in office say not to take what they say literally, or as the truth. Cain said it was not a serious plan, he just wanted to say something to get people to vote for him, not talk about a serious plan.

    October 17, 2011 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  4. killbucket

    It is SO hard to be a Republican these days. The Kool-aid is particularly watery. But I will have some solace in knowing that the next time I wake up, Hermie Cain will no longer top the polls.

    October 17, 2011 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  5. Johny Huber

    "It's a joke" is the death knell statement of any campaign. Not only does it show a lack of imagination foresight and a killer p.r. staff, it also shows an extreme underestimation of the intelligence of the American people. It was no joke, you just got caught with pizza on your face.

    October 17, 2011 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  6. JoeT

    If Cain is indeed elected, we will probably need two fences: one one each border, for the same reason a fence once ran all along East Germany's border.

    October 17, 2011 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  7. MiketheElectrician

    No Herman...you are the Joke!!

    October 17, 2011 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  8. The people in TN must feel stupid now who was there

    This man was serious when he said that, if he was joking at the time, wouldn't he would have atleast laughed when making the statement?

    October 17, 2011 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  9. Kwesoe

    The Joker is himself a Joke!

    October 17, 2011 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  10. ST

    Herb Cain is joking about electrocuting people????? I think his next joke will be poisoning them. Absurd!

    October 17, 2011 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  11. Linda

    There's only one joke here and that's Herman McCain

    October 17, 2011 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  12. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Will someone please explain to this man that everything he says doesn't just appear to the couple of hundred people in the audience, but is seen and/or heard by millions about as soon as he says it. That means someone will hear it and take it out of whatever context it was presented in (gotta love these days of the 15 second sound-bite), and someone will take offense.
    While Cain is not my favorite horse in this race, he has a real good opportunity to shoot himself in the foot, tanking any chance he may have if he doesn't but a muzzle on himself and keep on message.

    October 17, 2011 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  13. james Miller

    Some sense of humor, eh !!!! He`d probably laugh at a train wreck----

    October 17, 2011 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  14. EnochPeter

    "I've also said America needs to get a sense of humor. That was a joke, OK." This dimwitted puppet and liar is actually a candidate for president of the United States! How much more of a sense of humor does America need?

    October 17, 2011 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  15. Rudy NYC

    trey wrote:
    This article is a joke. First, if you don't have a sense of humor, then I suppose you really believe he was advocating the killing of mexican nationals. Secondly, sarcasm must be a lost art. Thirdly, the commenters on here are apparently unable to read the whole article and take everything to seriously.
    It's not about the article. It's about what Mr. Cain said, which obviously you have neither seen nor heard. The man was most serious. He was trying to create controversy and it blew up in his face.

    October 17, 2011 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  16. Rudy NYC

    Does this mean that "9-9-9" is a joke, too?

    October 17, 2011 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  17. Shawn

    I love all the comments on here asking about Herman's past and questioning his experience. These same questions were never asked about OBO the magnificent one. Because all you Stalinists that post here have an agenda paid for by Soros and the true elites.

    No one ver questioned OBO's ties to All of the left wing nuts.

    October 17, 2011 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  18. Lynda/Minnesota

    Looks as if the Grand Old Party's newest Flavor of the Week is fast becoming America's Joke of the Year.

    October 17, 2011 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  19. Richie P

    It was just a racist joke.

    October 17, 2011 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  20. Rosslaw

    When your average completely disconnected from reality right-winger starts talking about killing people, its just good policy to take him seriously.

    October 17, 2011 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  21. Phil in KC

    Yeah, right. Every time the Republicans put their foot in their mouths, they claim it was a joke or that they mis-spoke or that their intention was misunderstood. I thought this was the party that touts personal responsibility. Well, it's time they owned their remarks.

    October 17, 2011 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  22. Ken in MD

    9-9-9 is definitely a joke as well, and also just as funny.

    October 17, 2011 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  23. Shawn in MD

    Mr. Cain is so funny. That was just a great joke. I am laughing all the way to the voting booth, to vote for Obama!

    October 17, 2011 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  24. Bob, Virginia

    America must have a sense of humor for this dipwad to even be considered a real candidate for President.

    October 17, 2011 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  25. Don

    I think this was a planned political move. He can claim it's a joke, yet he can give a wink and a nod to all those who would love to see illegal aliens electrocuted (and I'll bet there is whole bunch of them!)

    This is all about winning the primaries, which in the case of the GOP means right-wing, evangelical, xenophobic, anti-science. He is playing the game perfectly.

    October 17, 2011 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
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