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The GOP debate on Thursday night was, once again, an attack on Texas governor Rick Perry. In the past, candidates have gone after the governor for his HPV vaccination in the state. On Thursday, it was about immigration.
Former Sen. Rick Santorum first attacked Perry over immigration. “I would say that he is soft on illegal immigration,” Santorum said. “He doesn’t want to build a fence. He gave a speech in 2001 where he talked about binational health insurance between Mexico and Texas. I mean, I don’t even think Barack Obama would be for binational health insurance.”
Santorum called Perry “very weak on this issue of American sovereignty and protecting our borders and not being a magnet for illegal immigration.” Perry defended his stance on immigration, especially a policy where he allows children of undocumented workers to receive in-state tuition costs at public colleges.
He said that the other Republicans who opposed in-state tuition for children of illegals were heartless. “If you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they’ve been brought there by no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart,” Perry said.
Romney pointed out that students from states outside Texas have to pay full tuition, putting holes in Perry’s logic. “If you’re a United States citizen from any one of the other 49 states, you have to pay $100,000 more. That doesn’t make sense to me,” Romney said. Perry had some awkward moments throughout the debate and seemed to be off his game.
Pausing and struggling to answer some questions. And the polls reflect that performance. A focus group run by Fox News said after the debate that Romney was the clear winner, and that Perry lost a large degree of support. Romney’s poise, confidence and specificity is beginning to impress voters. Surprisingly, Santorum is also gaining support.
He had another strong performance during the debate. Rep. Michele Bachmann is already fading to obscurity as Republican voters are starting to see the electability problems she has.
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