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. GRofPA

    News Flash: Herman Cain IS the joke.

    October 17, 2011 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    "Normajean, so what did you know about the current president, nada, zill, zero,( still don't know nothing about him) except you make history if you elect him."

    2 biographies and more scrutiny into hisbackground than any POTUS in the past 50-100 years and you guys are still pretending like his personal history is some big mystery? Haha. Methinks the ignorance is not feigned.

    October 17, 2011 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  3. Russ

    ...and the ones that make it over the fence ought to be lynched, right, Herm?

    October 17, 2011 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  4. Dixie Independent voter

    Cain forgets to mention that his 999 sales tax will be paid in combination with state sales tax and city sales tax. Add it up folks.

    October 17, 2011 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  5. Reggie from LA

    I could see where I could buy a comment about an "electrified fence" being a joke. However, I watched the clip and the context in which he said it, no one laughed. The crowd actually cheered the possibility of a fence KILLING people who would attempt to negotiate it. Illegal immigration is not a capitol crime punishable by death. Me thinks Mr Cain has no choice except to cast the remark as a joke. Unfortunately, this was not said to evoke laughter. No? Look at the video.

    October 17, 2011 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  6. TaxonTax

    Take the 9-9-9 plan and multiply it by State, County, City, and Special District taxes at the same rates.... thats 36%-36%-36% for everyone. In other words, nothing changes at the income tax level, but the sales taxes triple and the corporate taxes quintuple for many. Meanwhile the rich get even richer, and the poor just start occupying city streets. Welfare states, crime, illiteracy, hopelessness flurish even more.

    October 17, 2011 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  7. Busted

    Another republican taking the Fox News approach: These comments were not intended to be factual.

    October 17, 2011 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  8. GaryB

    I think he was actually probably serious. I think he only decided to call it a joke when an aide pointed out that building such a fence would require more revenue than his 9-9-9 plan could provide. These things don't get built for free, you know.

    October 17, 2011 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  9. Busted

    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.
    – One thing missing from this, similar to what's missing from every republican proposal to expand subsidies and military spending.... how do you intend on paying for it? Budget deficits are created when cash inflow does not match cash outflow. This needs to be a central issue w/republican candidiates and something that needs to be explained. You want war in Iraq... how do you plan on paying for it?

    October 17, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  10. Greg

    Cain is the "cool" guy for now, but it's becoming apparent that he is nowhere near being prepared to be President of the United States. 9-9-9 is a gimmick, and Cain has not details behind the plan. When he is pressed for details, he just says that it's a bold and fresh idea. We need ideas that really work.

    October 17, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  11. knucklehead

    This is what it's come to: anybody with any govt experience at all is now considered part of the problem. So the only people we can elect are those from outside, who have absolutely no experience dealing with Washington or how to get anything accomplished. If they've managed to build a corporation people assume they know what they are doing but running a govt and running a corporation are two different things. Then they get in office and start putting their feet in their mouths and getting run over by more politically adept folks than themselves and show that they are way over their heads. We get the govt we deserve.

    October 17, 2011 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  12. Peikoviani

    Al Qaeda will definitely try to use Mexican drug gangs in its war with the US. So instead of criticizing Herman Cain, maybe you need to look at your own priorities.

    October 17, 2011 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  13. Geoffrey in Lowell MA

    Some of you who think this is an issue with real traction, President Obama has deported more illegal aliens in three years than Bush did in his entire career.

    October 17, 2011 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  14. just a joke....

    We should put an electric fence around African American communities to keep them there. Just a joke. Hahaha... right Cain? Get a sense of humor.

    October 17, 2011 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  15. Mac

    The entire nations needs a "remove sick from rectum" kit. "OMFG HE SHOULDN'T JOKE ABOUT THAT GAWD"!!! Lighten up. Who thinks he will actually win anyways?

    October 17, 2011 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  16. Chris360

    The 24 N Parallel needs to be the NEW NORTHERN BORDER OF MEXICO. A new country Militarily controlled by the USA needs to be established. NO MORE DRUG CARTELS AKA MEXICAN GOVERNMENT. I volunteer to go with military support that I COMMAND. The now president of mexico phillipe calderon and LAST PRESIDENT vicente fox have spoke recommended HAD SPEACHES IN THE USA about legalizing ALL DRUGS LIKE THEY HAVE IN MEXICO. HELLO PEOPLE

    October 17, 2011 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  17. Claire

    cain's supporters are a joke. They must be some of the stupidest people in the country.

    October 17, 2011 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  18. Chris360

    I support Cain on this issue. I have lived in Texas and California for the past 35 years and this is no joke people. Drug Cartels run mexico.

    October 17, 2011 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |

    He's hilarious. And that's about it.

    October 17, 2011 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  20. BEAR JEW

    I think a black republican candidate scares the hell out of the dems...

    with cain, he"ll get all of the republican voters(even if they dont want a black pres they'll vote for him over obama), a chunk of the independants, and a chunk of the black and latino votes...and that scares the hell out of the dems.

    go cain!

    October 17, 2011 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  21. Lando

    Hey Cain....how many illegals did you employ at Godfathers pizza..
    You are a joke...go away

    October 17, 2011 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  22. LIP

    Some people say that Cain is not ready to be President and I say those same people voted for Obama, who definitely wasn't ready to be President of anything other than his glee club.
    I like Cain for his honesty and freshness and his fence too. Didn't he say there would be a sign warning those trying to climb it...enough said on that subject. Either Cain or Romney will do fine to get us back on the right path, a path other than class warfare, racial hatred and Socialism.

    October 17, 2011 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  23. Lynne

    Well, Mr. Cain when you tell a "joke" that's funny we'll laugh! The first part of the video about China and their wall...Funny! You and your wall and killing people, not so much with the funny....sorry.

    October 17, 2011 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  24. Chris

    A joke? Really? It doesn't sound like one. How are the American people supposed to decipher what policy positions are "jokes" and which ones are for real? His actual positions are somewhat troubling, but most troubling about Herman Cain is his complete lack of transparency.

    October 17, 2011 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  25. Greg

    Herman Cain shoots from the lip the way Barry Goldwater did.

    He'll get about as close to the White House too.

    October 17, 2011 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
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