Perry dials back 'heartless' comment
September 28th, 2011
05:25 PM ET
3 years ago

Perry dials back 'heartless' comment

(CNN) - After almost a week’s worth of backlash, Texas Gov. Rick Perry called his word choice “inappropriate” Wednesday after saying fellow conservatives 'have no heart' for disagreeing with a Texas law allowing illegal immigrants to receive in-state tuition at public universities.

"I probably chose a poor word to explain that for people who don't want their state to be giving tuition to illegal aliens, illegal immigrants, in this country, that's their call, and I respect that," Perry said in an on-camera interview with Newsmax. "And I was probably a bit over-passionate in using that word, and it was inappropriate. But here's what I do believe: it's a state's sovereign right to decide that issue for themselves."

At a debate on Fox News last Thursday, Perry defended a law he passed as Texas governor that allowed children of illegal immigrants to be eligible for in-state tuition at Texas universities.

"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. "We need to be educating these children because they will become a drag on our society."

Perry faced immediate criticism from conservatives after the comment, who slammed the governor for not holding a stronger position against illegal immigration. He also received strong criticism from his closest competitor in the Republican race, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who said the immigration issue was a matter of the brain, not the heart.

In the interview with Newsmax, Perry continued to defend the law, saying it was a policy that made sense in Texas and which enjoyed overwhelming support in the state legislature.

"It wasn't about immigration, it was about education," Perry said. "The bigger issue is the federal government has failed in its responsibility to secure borders."

Also see:

Christie speech adds fuel to presidential speculation

Perry's wife staunchly defends husband, warns against 'polished' GOP pres. candidates

First on CNN: NH activist endorses Perry


Filed under: 2012 • Rick Perry
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Perry/Bachmann/Palin = The Pea Brain Party

    Sing along with me boys and girls......

    One, Two, Three O'Clock
    Four O'Clock Perry Flip Flops
    Five, Six, Seven O'Clock
    Eight O'Clock Romney Flip Flops
    Nine, Ten, Eleven O'Clock
    2012 O'Clock
    GOP Flops
    They're going to Flop around the
    County that's right
    Going to FLOP FLOP FLOP on
    Election Night....

    September 29, 2011 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
  2. Amayzen May

    Liberty-minded people get this “heartless” accusation more than enough from so-called progressives—we don't need to hear it from someone who claims to share our values and by such slander Perry reveals his true nature and intentions. A big government-loving warmongering George Bush clone is the last thing America needs now or ever. We won't get fooled again!

    September 29, 2011 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  3. GI Joe

    He needs to go back and hide in Texas. His little wifey just ain't gonna make it on the campaign route. She's already complaining about the scrutiny (Paylin-like) and we haven't even STARTED to dig into their PERSONAL LIFE. THAT is where we get to have fun - watch them squirm. So far it's just debates - next: morals, actions, bribes, "friends", etc.

    September 29, 2011 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  4. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    Too late Rick Bush. The Koch boys bailed on you. Wingnuts are waiting for Snooki Palin to ride in on her black horse to repeat 2008.

    September 29, 2011 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  5. Njfinest2009

    Hey Rick- You call Romney a flip flopper? Either you want illegals here or you don't? which is it?

    September 29, 2011 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
1 2