ThinkProgress filed this report from Pella, Iowa.
As ThinkProgress has documented this week, Herman Cain is a man of many unusual ideas. The GOP presidential candidate and conservative favorite had several big applause lines during his address to the Iowa Family Leader audience on Monday. But the crowd’s most enthusiastic response was inspired by Cain’s novel ideas about how to secure the border.
Cain dismissed naysayers who think it’s impractical to build a tall fence along the entire length of the U.S. — Mexico border, which is nearly 2,000 miles long. He compared the effort to the Great Wall of China and called for the U.S. to build its own Great Wall, saying, “I think we can build one if we want to!” Cain also endorsed an idea President Obama made jokingly during a recent trip to Texas — building a moat along the border. Echoing Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL), Cain added, “And I would put those alligators in that moat”:
CAIN: I just got back from China. Ever heard of the Great Wall of China? It looks pretty sturdy. And that sucker is real high. I think we can build one if we want to! We have put a man on the moon, we can build a fence! Now, my fence might be part Great Wall and part electrical technology…It will be a twenty foot wall, barbed wire, electrified on the top, and on this side of the fence, I’ll have that moat that President Obama talked about. And I would put those alligators in that moat!
The idea of erecting a massive fence along the U.S. — Mexico border has long been a favorite of conservatives, despite the fact that several experts have condemned the notion as foolhardy and ineffective. As Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano once said, “You show me a 50-foot wall and I’ll show you a 51-foot ladder.” It’s perhaps surprising that Iowa voters would be so moved by the issue of illegal immigration in a state that’s so distant from the heart of the problem. But Cain took his cues from the audience early on when they cheered any brief mention of cracking down on immigrants. Cain expanded on border security as one of at least seven “crises” he laid out during his speech.