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. logic in LA

    Is he a presidential candidate or stand up comic? It appears neither. His remarks aren't funny and are certainly not presidential

    October 17, 2011 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  2. Patrick

    Arpaio meeting Cain, heh. That's going to create some kind of black hole of ignorance, sucking in even more ignorance from the fertile fields of Arizona.

    October 17, 2011 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  3. Peace

    Is Herb Cain aware that his electric fence will electrocute even the animals, birds and any other breathing creatures? What a horrible idea one can come with!

    October 17, 2011 10:02 am at 10:02 am |

    Cain,.. you're the joke. This guy comes out with some ridiculous remarks,.. and then claims he was only joking,.. how can anyone take him seriously?

    October 17, 2011 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  5. Mike from Boise

    No Mr. Cain; You are the joke. One the Tea party is preparing to unleash on the US if enough people are uninformed enough to vote for you.

    October 17, 2011 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  6. edpeters

    I'm confused:
    1) Cain is a joke?
    2) electric fence is a joke?
    3) Americans need to get a sense of humor is a joke?
    I'm think #1...

    October 17, 2011 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  7. imho44

    He can joke about the fence all he wants. What is not a joke is having a meeting with Arpaio; the same Arpaio that is under investigation for multiples human rights violations in his personal vendetta against hispanics. Those visits tell a lot about the kind of person that Cain is.

    October 17, 2011 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  8. Jay

    Hey Cain, here's another joke....your chances of being elected POTUS.

    October 17, 2011 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  9. Oldie in TampaBay

    OPEN YOUR EYES AMERICA! This guy is T-R-O-U-B-L-E & dangerous!

    October 17, 2011 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  10. kman821

    Cain is the one who needs to get a sense of humor ... the man is certainly a simple-minded and heartless buffoon, but he’s not the least bit funny. Comedians are supposed to tell jokes, not be the joke!

    October 17, 2011 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  11. Expat American

    The longer Cain keeps making jokes – the sooner it will be clear that the biggest joke of all…is him. He is my first choice to win the Republican Nomination besides slack jaw Palin (who may now finally realize what a joke she is). Can you imagine all those red state cross-burning Republicans voting for Cain?

    October 17, 2011 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  12. athiesttoo

    If you aren't rich it's your fault not the fact that Cain had you slaving in his Pizza shops for minimum wage while he got very wealthy. Th fact that the Republicans find this guy app-ealing in any way is the joke. He is an angry, black man with a chip on his shoulder who hates everyone especially people of any color .

    October 17, 2011 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  13. virginianvoter324

    All these people bashing Cain are racists. It seems neither the left or the right can stand a black man in power that belongs to the opposite party.

    October 17, 2011 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  14. Dave

    Electric Fence sounds like a good idea. It deters those with bolt cutters.

    October 17, 2011 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  15. demetri

    Everytime he slps up it's a joke. He is the joke. He is uncomfortable in his own skin. He is also a hyprocrite.

    October 17, 2011 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  16. Marty

    All those ppl bashing Cain are intelligent not racists. I voted for and back Obama. Cain is another story another republican who has money nad thinks the little people should just shut up and be happy they are rich.

    October 17, 2011 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  17. ricky vee


    Is Herb Cain aware that his electric fence will electrocute even the animals, birds and any other breathing creatures? What a horrible idea one can come with!

    Yeah..all that desert wildlife like lizards and cayotes are gonna be wiped out ( rolling eyes )

    October 17, 2011 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  18. Kenny K

    I laughed so hard when I watched a video of him at a campaign saying to an audience of white people that "I left democrats plantation..." It sounds like he is begging for acceptance.

    October 17, 2011 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  19. ricky vee

    Oldie in TampaBay

    OPEN YOUR EYES AMERICA! This guy is T-R-O-U-B-L-E & dangerous!

    Yeah..Ok ... we all keep forgetting how wonderful a job your messiah barry is doing..

    October 17, 2011 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  20. HillClimber

    There is nothing funny about backing off on the promise of an electrified fence – that, and a lot more, is what we need to prevent access to my country by these alien invaders. My country is literally being destroyed (and I live in California where I see it first hand) by our failure to protect America for American Citizens. My schools are overcrowded by these foreigners whose parents don't even pay taxes (and that is not to suggest that they are welcome here if they do pay taxes – they are not welcome under any circumstance).The fence – or a least armed guards and whatever else we can muster up to positively prevent access – is just one aspect of what must be a comprehensive plan to protect America from alien invaders.

    October 17, 2011 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  21. tv22

    Seriously, what's wrong with this idea? I think we ought to mine the border.

    October 17, 2011 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  22. KRG

    Joke or not, it was in poor taste. After watching him on several news stations, he is a hothead and has some of the worst body language I have ever seen. He acts like a spoiled little rich kid that throws a fit when he doesnt get his way. He is for the RICH and could care less about the middle class or the poor.

    October 17, 2011 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  23. GOP = Greed Over People

    First of all, killing innocent people trying to feed their families is not funny and anyone serious about being President should know that. Go electrocute the head of the company that take advantage of the illegals with low wages, just do not complain when you cannot afford lettuce or any other produce harvested by hand due to the cost.

    Second, when is the media going to realize this chump is playing them like a fiddle? Trump did it for ratings, Palin for book sales and now Cain and Gingrich are combining both book tours with running for the president, all for the free publicity. He nor Gingrich has any ground organization. It is all for book sales and then Cain can get a show on Fox about he was "brutalized" because of his race, just like Palin.

    Funny you media types do not see the patterns

    October 17, 2011 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  24. namethename

    Last three years was a bad joke .

    October 17, 2011 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  25. marcia

    GET THE ELECTRIC FENCE! It's not in poor taste,it's a great idea! YAY CAIN!!!!

    October 17, 2011 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
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