Cain: Electric fence may be "over-exaggeration"

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain on "Face the Nation" Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011. CBS

Herman Cain said Sunday that the electrified border fence he once proposed as a means to solve illegal immigration was an "over-exaggeration," and that, until elected president, he will "tone down" his sense of humor.

Cain, speaking on CBS' "Face the Nation," also said he was speaking "in jest" when he suggested that a border fence be backed up by a moat filled with alligators.

"That was totally in jest, Bob," Cain told CBS' Bob Schieffer. "Some people are getting used to my sense of humor and as I get more attention I will tone down the sense of humor until I become president, because America needs to get a sense of humor."

Earlier this month, Cain proposed building an electrified fence along the U.S.-Mexican border that could kill people trying to enter the country illegally.

Cain later said his comments were "a joke." But he backtracked again, telling reporters in Arizona that "I'm not walking away from that."

"Yes, I said that was an over-exaggeration," Cain told Schieffer, arguing that the key to solving immigration "means solving more problems."

"First, secure the border for real. That will be secure with the fence, not necessarily electric but a fence. Another part with technology and another part with troops because of some of the areas that are so dangerous. So it will be a combination of the three," he said.

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"Face the Nation" transcript: October 30, 2011

Cain also pledged his support for controversial immigration laws in states like Arizona and Alabama, and said the actions those states have taken - which immigration rights activists have largely decried - were "the right thing to do."

"We've got to enforce the laws that are already here," Cain said. "And we've got to empower the state to do what the federal government is not doing. I was in Alabama yesterday. They passed some laws and now the Justice Department, the Obama administration, is coming down on them, just like they came down on Arizona. I don't agree with that. I believe that the actions that Alabama took and that Arizona took to try and defend themselves and then do something about this is the right thing to do."

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