At two campaign rallies in Tennessee on Saturday night, the Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain said that part of his immigration policy would be to build an electrified fence on the country’s border with Mexico that could kill people trying to enter the country illegally.
But by Sunday morning, in a dramatic change of tone, Mr. Cain, a former restaurant executive, said he was only kidding.
“That’s a joke,” Mr. Cain told the journalist David Gregory during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” where he was asked about the electrified fence. “That’s not a serious plan. I’ve also said America needs to get a sense of humor.”
Mr. Cain’s attempt to pass off incendiary comments as nothing but a joke may take more effort, however. In making the initial remarks about an electrified fence killing illegal immigrants, Mr. Cain was detailed and repetitive. He did not introduce his thoughts as anything but serious commentary, beginning with the words, “We have a crisis of illegal immigration.”
And the crowds responded with cheers, not laughs.