He may have been 2,000 miles from the border, but Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry's immigration record in Texas quickly became the focus in New Hampshire Saturday afternoon.
Speaking to hundreds of Granite State voters at a private reception, the Texas governor was asked whether he supported a fence along the Mexican border.
"No, I don't support a fence on the border," he said. "The fact is, it's 1,200 miles from Brownsville to El Paso. Two things: How long you think it would take to build that? And then if you build a 30-foot wall from El Paso to Brownsville, the 35-foot ladder business gets real good."
The answer produced an angry shout from at least one audience member. And it exposed an ongoing rift with some conservative voters over Perry's immigration record.
Tea party activists in Texas have been particularly upset by his steady opposition to the fence. He also signed a law giving illegal immigrants in-state tuition for Texas universities. And Texas tea party groups sent Perry an open letter this year expressing disappointment over his failure to get a bill passed that would have outlawed "sanctuary cities," municipalities that protect illegal immigrants.
I heard Perry call into the Mark Levin show the other night, and while he says he's against amnesty, he said border states should have the option to choose if they want to give in-state tuition, etc, to illegal aliens.
So I ask Gov. Perry, why give illegal aliens the lure to come to America illegally? To me, it is an insult for a veteran or child of a fallen soldier or 9/11 casualty to have to pay out of state tuition, while someone who broke our immigration laws gets to pay less.
Here's another reason why conservatives should turn their nose at Rick Perry. From Fox News, April 29, 2010.
Arizona's tough new illegal immigration enforcement law would not be right for Texas, Gov. Rick Perry said Thursday, upholding the state's long-held tradition of rejecting harsh anti-immigrant policies.
"I fully recognize and support a state's right and obligation to protect its citizens, but I have concerns with portions of the law passed in Arizona and believe it would not be the right direction for Texas," Perry said in a written statement.
"For example, some aspects of the law turn law enforcement officers into immigration officials by requiring them to determine immigration status during any lawful contact with a suspected alien, taking them away from their existing law enforcement duties, which are critical to keeping citizens safe."
Here's a video of Perry back from 2009 in Brownsville, TX, calling the idea of a border wall "ridiculous."
I like George W. Bush as a person and he did a great job leading our military in the War on Terror. But the last thing we need in 2012 is another Jorge Bush in the form of Ricardo Perry.