Derry, New Hampshire (CNN) - At his first New Hampshire town hall, Rick Perry did not field a question on the controversial immigration policies that have dogged the candidate for weeks.
But that doesn't mean the topic didn't come up.
Instead, the man who introduced the Texas governor offered a rousing endorsement of Perry's conservative bona fides on cracking down on illegal immigration.
"There is no person in this race stronger in taking a stance against illegal immigration in actions than Gov. Rick Perry," declared John Stephen, a former gubernatorial candidate in New Hampshire and one of Perry's most visible and tireless supporters here.
Stephen ticked through Perry's actions as governor, including vetoes of legislation that would grant driver's licenses to illegal immigrants and actions Perry took to "support and allow" for $400 million in state funds to protect the border.
Notably absent on the list was Perry's support of legislation granting in-state college tuition to children of some illegal immigrants - a policy which has alienated some conservatives and energized many of Perry's GOP opponents. The legislation is similar to the federal Dream Act.
Stephen pre-emptively sought to reassure the audience in Derry, many of whom wore Perry stickers and applauded Stephen's remarks.
"He also is opposed to the federal Dream Act and he absolutely is opposed to granting illegal immigrants amnesty," Stephen said. "That is leadership."
Later, some of the audience members said they had hoped to hear from Perry himself on the issue. Perry took eight questions from the audience but none was on his immigration policies in Texas. He did not mention the issue in his short speech before taking questions.
Katherine Prudhomme-O'Brien, of Derry, had wanted to ask Perry to explain his position.
"All my friends are talking about the in-state tuition thing," she said, explaining her child was a high school senior so the issue of college tuition was an important consideration. "It's very frustrating and after awhile you start to feel like an idiot for playing by the rules."
She hopes to hear more from Perry at another event during the primary season.
"Maybe there's more to it," she said of his position on the tuition issue.
Perry has pointed out the decision was widely popular among state legislators and said he believed it was a state's rights issue.
"I was hoping he'd elaborate. He didn't mention it at all," said a woman from Derry. "I'm not against immigrants. I'm against the illegal part. I think sometimes people forget what illegal means."
Others who attended the meeting said illegal immigration did not stack high on their list of priorities.
"It doesn't hit home like it does maybe in some of the border states," said John Trainor, of Derry.