PHOENIX -- Days after making controversial remarks about building an electric border fence, Herman Cain campaigned in Arizona, the state many consider ground zero for the illegal immigration debate.
The former Godfather Pizza CEO apologized Monday for offending anyone with his comments about the border, but said he would still consider building an electric fence if elected.
Cain met with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and headlined a Republican Party fundraiser at the Phoenix Convention Center.
On Saturday at a campaign event, Cain made these remarks about his plans for a border fence: “It's going to be 20 feet high. It’s going to have barbed wire on the top. It’s going to be electrified. And there’s going to be a sign on the other side saying, ‘It will kill you -- Warning.’”
“It’s insensitive for them to be killing our citizens, killing our border agents, and that’s what needs to stop," he continued.
Cain initially backed away from the remarks Monday, saying “it was a joke,” albeit maybe not the best joke for a presidential candidate to make.
But when pressed on the issue at a news conference with Arpaio, Cain said he was not sorry for suggesting the electric fence.
“It might be electrified. I'm not walking away from that. I just don't want to offend anyone,” he said
Cain went on to question why so many people are upset by the remarks.
“That wasn’t directed at people here legally, it wasn’t directed at them, so what’s the beef?”
John Loredo, a former Arizona legislator, said the remarks were inflammatory.
“This type of violent, extremist nonsense doesn’t solve any issues, it doesn’t solve any problems, all it does is throw gasoline on the issues,” Loredo said.
Cain also spoke about repealing President Obama’s health care reform plan, and enacting his 9-9-9 tax plan.
Under 9-9-9, flat 9 percent federal income, federal business and federal sales taxes would be imposed on all Americans.
Some in Arizona have raised concerns that the sales tax hike could create major “sticker shock” for consumers. An additional 9 percent on top of the state’s already high sales tax could mean shoppers pay upwards of 18 percent in sales tax.
“The negative impact on retailers is lower sales,” said Michelle Ahlmer of the Arizona Association of Retailers.
She said while consumers may be paying less income tax as a result of 9-9-9, they still may be turned off by high taxes when shopping locally, and may be more inclined to turn to online shopping to avoid paying the extra tax.