Cain apologizes for comments on border fence - sort of
U.S. Rep Raúl Grijalva calls him out on national television
Web Producers: Marissa Pasquet and Forrest Carr
TUCSON (AP/KGUN9-TV) - Herman Cain on Monday indicated his controversial proposal for building an electric fence along the Mexican border is still on the table.
During an evening news conference with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Cain apologized when first asked about comments he made over the weekend about building an electric fence that would kill people trying to enter the country illegally.
"It was a joke," Cain said emphatically: "I apologize if I offended anyone. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa."
But when asked later in the news conference why he refused to take ownership of the comments, Cain said that he did, and that he was only apologizing if he offended anyone. But he said he wouldn't apologize for proposing a combination of tactics to crack down on illegal immigration.
On Tuesday afternoon U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva went on MSNBC's Martin Bashir program to challenge Cain's comments. He made it clear he does not accept Cain's explanation. "As ignorant as the comments are," Grijalva said, "It's a pathetic kind of pandering he's doing on the issue." Grijalva called Cain's comments "dehumanizing."
After Grijalva appeared on the program, Grijalva's office issued a press release about the border security issue. "It’s going to be solved by good security, but it’s also going to be solved by a comprehensive, pragmatic reform to our laws that deals with the human aspect...."
Cain, whose standing as a GOP presidential contender is surging in the polls, was in Phoenix for a joint appearance with outspoken Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Next stop: a Republican debate, scheduled for Tueday night in Las Vegas.
GOP contender Michele Bachman also was in Phoenix on Monday. She has signed a pledge to support a fence along the entire U.S./Mexico border. Bachman told a mostly provate gathering in Phoenix that it's a "big issue."