Perry defends stance on Fed, immigration
August 21st, 2011
09:55 AM ET
11 years ago

Perry defends stance on Fed, immigration

Rock Hill, South Carolina (CNN) - Rick Perry wrapped up his first week in the spotlight as a declared presidential candidate by returning to South Carolina to larger crowds and more questions about his record than when he launched his campaign here last weekend.

The Texas governor did not back down from statements about the validity of climate change, his position on immigration, or his claim that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's quantitative easing plans were "treasonous."

"I'm passionate about the Obama administration's monetary policy" Perry said. "That's what my remarks were about."

Speaking to the media Saturday afternoon for the first time in five days, Perry seemed to welcome scrutiny that comes with being one of the leading GOP contenders for the White House.

"But the fact of the matter is, I'm about representing the American people out here, and the American people are really concerned and scared," Perry added. "Small businessmen and woman are frightened about the monetary policy or the lack thereof with this administration."

As governor of the state that shares the largest border with Mexico, Perry defended his record on immigration, including his support for allowing illegal immigrants to get in-state tuition rates at Texas universities but opposing such a law on a national level.

"I'm a big believer in the 10th amendment," Perry said. "Whether they allow for tuition increases or decreases or whatever it might be in that state, it needs to be the states making that decisions."

Perry wouldn't wade into a national immigration reform debate, deferring to his position that those decisions should be made on the state level, "not by the federal government making one size-fits-all."

But he added, "Once we secure the border we can have a conversation about immigration reform."

Perry also believes in a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants serving in the military.

"I think that is a very unique set of individuals and different than folks who come here illegally and not given back in that particular way," he said.

As for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Perry disparaged President Barack Obama's withdrawal strategy.

"I think the president made a huge mistake by signaling the enemy that we're gonna leave at particular time," Perry said. "That's bad public policy but more importantly, it put our kids in harms way."

But the former Air Force pilot didn't offer a strategy of his own, other than to say "we need to start having thoughtful conversations with those commanders in the field" before making withdrawal decisions.

In his short stump speech at Tommy's Country Ham House in Greenville on Saturday morning, Perry said, "We may talk about a hundred different issues by being asked questions but let me tell you every time, we're going to back to what's most important to Americans and that is how are we gonna get this country working again."

"It is time for change. Not a rhetoric of change, but a record of change," he said, directing his criticism to President Obama.

On his two-day swing through the conservative early Southern primary state – with visits to Florence, Columbia, Greenville and Rock Hill - Perry picked up two important endorsements and drew crowds in the hundreds while talking up small government.

"Most Americans don't yearn to be dependent on government. They want economic freedom," Perry told the Florence crowd. "Economic freedom comes from work and wages, not welfare."

Being governor of a state with like-minded values certainly helps Perry campaign through what he calls a "conservative beacon on the Eastern seaboard."

He connects to the veteran population with his experience as an Air Force pilot, to the social conservative groups with his Christian values and he can talk about college and national sports as good as the next guy.

Veteran South Carolina lawmaker and former U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins, who endorsed the candidate in Greenville, described Perry's appeal to the state.

"I'm sure all of you have many things in common with Governor Perry. And that's the point. Governor Perry is one of us," Wilkins said. "He is someone that we can relate to, he is someone that we can connect with and he is someone that we can believe in."

But some voters in the state are still sizing up the candidate, who just entered the race seven days ago.

Perry faced questions from people challenging his conservative credentials, since he first held elective office as a Democrat and was Texas campaign chairman for Democrat Al Gore's 1988 unsuccessful presidential bid.

One man in Greenville confronted the candidate about his ties to the other party and later told CNN that Perry acknowledged he didn't support Ronald Reagan in 1976 and 1980. The man, a Republican, remained unconvinced, "as though the time distance nullifies his philosophy?"

Hundreds of people gathered to meet the most recent presidential candidate at his last event in Rock Hill, a meet-and-greet at the quaint downtown Old Town Bistro, and those who couldn't fit in the tiny storefront restaurant waited in an overflow room in the back.

The candidate stepped a few feet into the packed banquet room and stayed only a few minutes, disappointing hundreds of people who were told the presidential candidate was going to speak and work the room like he did at Old Town Bistro and at ever other stop.

CNN talked to a number of people who said they were disappointed, including one woman who waited five hours.

Filed under: 2012 • Rick Perry • South Carolina
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    "Bernanke's quantitative easing plans were "treasonous.""

    The US Constitution defines treason very narrowly: "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort."

    Bernanke isn't guilty of that (unless you consider Obama an enemy of the US :-)), but basing federal monetary policy on the objective of helping Obama get re-elected is corruption of the highest order.

    August 21, 2011 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  2. Randy, San Francisco

    Pride comes before the fall. By failing to admit the statements were a mistake, Perry appears unpresidential. He may be the darling among the Tea Party hobbits but continual verbal gaffs will not win him support among moderates and independents.

    August 21, 2011 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  3. rs

    Perry is just another GOP/TP rabid dog. If the GOP ever wants to be elected to office again, it needs to abandon the narrow track of pro-rich only, anti-American, anti-middle class values it has assumed and leave the nutty, ill-informed, radical politics behind. The must still be a Gerald Ford (or an Eisenhower, or a Nelson Rockefeller) in there somewhere who can save them from themselves.

    August 21, 2011 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  4. Hammerer

    I'm hearing alot about Perry's education. About his college transcript, his grades, his activities while in college and so on.
    Lets compare them to Obama's college record. You can not do that because all of his records are sealed. All that is known about any part of Obama's life is what he or his handlers have told the media. Of course the media did not take the time to verify the information, they just sold it to America.
    Obama may be well educated but so far the only skill that he has exhibited is the ability to read a teleprompter and raise the debt to an unbelievable number.

    August 21, 2011 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  5. Name king

    How the hell can this government defend a border the size of 2 Texas. Hey the repugs keep drilling Obama about small government as their governors fire government workers left and right. To defend the Mexican border it will take our whole arm forces plus Russia's and it still won't be enough. This would cause the Feds over a trillion dollars and it still won't be enough. Why didn't these repugs put pressure on former presidents to secure our borders, especially They weren't screaming austerity from the fed. Lesson we need to do as much to the borders but we also need to give these law abiding illegals permits if they would pay back taxes and start paying taxes to get us out of the fiscal hole we are in. He'll they will make money any ways their is nothing we can do to stop that. Lesson sometimes we need to get out of the emotional world and step into the rational world especially when we have a crisis on our hands. American citizens and people who have been through the official residential procedures always have first crack on getting a job.

    August 21, 2011 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  6. FIELD1stSGT

    He is what he appears, a man of his word. What Perry says, he will unlike the present Oval Office sitter, stand by his word. This is what this country needs. A man with priinciples, a man of God and a man willing to lose some voters, to gain many Patriotic voters in turn.

    August 21, 2011 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  7. Tony

    I pray that Jefferson Davis Perry keeps talking...

    Perhaps if he keeps talking even the teabaggers will realize what a complete moron he is...

    I thought Texans were smarter than this, how ashamed they must be admitting they elected this guy...more than once!

    August 21, 2011 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  8. minnie

    The American people are very worried about the economy and jobs. Perry is right about that. What we don't need is some flip-flopping, party changing, God-invoking (falsely) idiot running for the presidency to add to our concerns.

    August 21, 2011 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  9. dnick47

    If this goose-stepper get elected, anyone who dares to disagree with him will be a traitor... that's what scary about self-styled born again Christians, they recieve special instructions from their "god" – not necessarily the God, but their god – who tells them what and whom are evil, etc. If Perry were the true Christian and a true-Pro-Life, Texas would have the single best safety net in the world; alas as it is he's a liar and Texas the the worst.

    August 21, 2011 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  10. vic , nashville ,tn

    Immigration is federal issues

    Many corporation sitting on money and they are not investing but many foreign companies are investing here and crating jobs Volkswagen in Chattanooga Tennessee and Nissan in Smyrna Tennessee.
    Some of tea party state senators want tough immigration law like Arizona SB 1070 here but some smart republicans blocking that to attract more foreign investors because they are considering the jobs
    We need to attract more foreign investors to create jobs we can’t have different immigration laws state wide

    August 21, 2011 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  11. jc

    To Henry Miller: The fact you think it's funny to call Obama an enemy of the US clearly shows you're a hack, who's comments have zero credibility. Get a life.

    August 21, 2011 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  12. Edward

    Maybe the better question for Perry is

    "as President what would you do to protect our borders".

    August 21, 2011 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  13. Republicans - The Not Intended To Be Factually Accurate" Party

    Shades of:
    "I`m the Decider, I Decide"
    "Wanted Dead or Alive"
    "You Are Either With Us or Against Us"
    "We are Fighting a Crusade"

    August 21, 2011 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  14. maf

    Keep digging Perry, pretty soon we will see if you can withstand the challenge from inside the GObP, or if you become fodder as yet another in the long line of unacceptable Party of NOTHING candidates!
    Hope your resume is in order. . . you are going to need it!

    August 21, 2011 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  15. SecedingfromTexas

    '......but basing federal monetary policy on the objective of helping Obama get re-elected is corruption of the highest
    So you are buying into that idiotic idea from Perry? What part of the fact that GW Bush appointed Bernanke, Obama asked him to stay on, and the Federal Reserve is an independent entity don't you understand? This is one huge reason why
    lies, inuendos, side-swipe remarks are allowed to fester. People hear them and pass them on as fact. No proof,
    no reasoning behind the words, just mud slinging at its worst.

    August 21, 2011 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  16. Hawk in Texas

    Perry is an idiot. he was at best a c- student ( d+ and D- mostly. he stands for one thing only. RICK PERRY and that is it. he is even dumber than bush. i would think a stump is probably smarter. the jobs that he claimed he creatated were all at fast food places which was hiring anyway. he also lies.

    August 21, 2011 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  17. peace

    the broke back moutain, log cabin punk needs to stay in texas.

    August 21, 2011 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  18. Eric

    what a phoney, you want to serve Jesus not the American people. and 2% of scientists are skeptical of global warming, i'd say that's a landslide for the global warming is man made crowd. what an idiot.

    August 21, 2011 11:36 am at 11:36 am |