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Posted at 01:38 PM ET, 10/18/2011

Herman Cain meets with Sheriff Joe Arpaio, stands by electric border fence comments

Herman Cain now has something of a flip-flop problem over border security. First he seemed to be for the electrified fence along the U.S.-Mexico border. Then it was just a joke. And now the electrified fence, or at least some version of it, seems to be exactly what Cain wants at the border to keep illegal immigrants out.


Herman Cain (R) speaks during a news conference with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio at Arpaio's headquarters October 17, 2011 in Phoenix, Ariz. (Joshua Lott - GETTY IMAGES)
After a brief meeting Monday with tough-talking Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has become the poster boy for his state’s harsh immigration laws, Cain offered a mea culpa (three to be exact) on being so light-hearted on such a serious issue.

“It is probably not a joke you are supposed to make if you are a presidential candidate. Mea culpa. Mea culpa. Mea culpa,” he said, according to the Arizona Republic. “I want to make sure that people will be encouraged to come through the front door, but at the same time we are going to shut the back door and the side door.”

On stage Tuesday night in Las Vegas, Nev., for the CNN/Western Republican Leadership Conference debate, Cain, who leads Mitt Romney in some polls, will likely face questions about immigration. After all, Latinos make up a quarter of the state’s population and immigration is tied with economic concerns as a top issue among that voting bloc.

Cain seemed to be prepared to answer that question on stage Tuesday, with his answers yesterday at a press conference with Arpaio as a sort of warm-up.

Asked by reporters about the electrified fence, he seemed to modify his stance a bit, embracing some version of the fence.

“You are right, I don’t apologize for using a combination of a fence, and it might be electrified. I’m not walking away from that. I just don’t want to offend anyone,” he said, according to the Republic. “That was directed at the people who are trying to sneak into America illegally. Latinos who are here (legally), I believe they deserve the same opportunities of every other citizen.”

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By  |  01:38 PM ET, 10/18/2011

 
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