As the 2010 census and redistricting battles taking place around the country have shown, the U.S. Hispanic population has surged in the past 10 years, making it a critical political constituency for anyone running for president. But GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain may be a nonstarter with this key demographic because of recent controversial statements about border security, and Somos Republicans, a national pro-immigration group, is calling for him to end his bid for his party’s 2012 nomination.
In Iowa last month, ThinkProgress reports, Cain suggested building a fence along U.S.-Mexican borders that would be “part Great Wall [of China] and part electrical technology.” Cain also said that he’d include a moat filled with alligators.
In a New York Times Magazine interview, he was asked to explain his remarks in light of the fact that close to three million Chinese died building the Great Wall.
“My point was if they could build that wall centuries ago without bulldozers, we can secure the border today,” Cain responded. “It could be a combination of walls and high-tech equipment. Now, if accidents happen, that’s one thing. But I think we can improve upon that ratio of three million people dying.”
The Somos Republicans group was deeply offended by Cain’s alleged solution to border control, which it said isn’t a practical way to reform the nation’s “broken” immigration policies.
“We call on Herman Cain to drop his candidacy for president. His recent comments and lack of practical solutions to solving illegal immigration show he’s not a serious candidate,” the group said in a statement issued Monday. “We’re looking for practical and humane solutions and find Cain’s pandering to xenophobes disgusting. Apparently nativist tea has been served up at many tea parties. Hispanics are a key swing vote and whichever GOP candidate succeeds in winning the nomination cannot win the general election without the Hispanic vote. Cain needs to leave the field open to more serious candidates.”
(Photo: Steve Pope/Getty Images)