Perry dials back 'heartless' comment
September 28th, 2011
05:25 PM ET
9 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. Sniffit

    Has he been to see Archbishop Limbaugh and Mullah Beck to confess his sins, seek fogiveness and atone for his heresies yet or is this just the opening act of contrition?

    September 28, 2011 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  2. Bobby Ray

    He was right the first time. This and vaccinations are the only times I have agreed with him and he backed off of both.

    September 28, 2011 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  3. Mike

    Flip-flopper. Typical Republican/Tea Party tactics, say what you really believe then offer apologies and explanations. Pathetic.

    September 28, 2011 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  4. Ed DFWTX

    I think Perry's statement was correct. GOP conservatives have no heart regarding social issues like immigration unless of course it is to hire an illegal and pay them under minimum wage! The republican party of today is the party wackos like birthers, bigots, teabaggers, billionaires, and hate groups disquised as "family groups."

    September 28, 2011 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  5. GOP = Greed Over People

    Slick Rick just became Backpedal Perry.

    Also, "straight talking" as an adjective to describe Pretty Perry is also off the table, by his own admission, he is not.

    September 28, 2011 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  6. DC

    Im from Texas and he will support statuary cities and open borders beware..... Mitt Romney 2012

    September 28, 2011 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  7. V in Chicago

    He only said what he did because he knows he will never be President and he wants to make sure he can still get the Latino vote for his relection as Governor of Texas. That one wasn't too hard for figure out . . .

    From what I heard him say about putting possible innocent men to death in the State of Texas's prisons, he has no heart! Nice try, Ricky, but this one didn't fly.

    September 28, 2011 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  8. David

    "D" stutent and it shows. Perry, dumber than Bush but without the charm.

    September 28, 2011 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  9. diridi

    Just ignore this idiot, he is like Sarah Palin...Donald Trump, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbu, Karl Rowe, etc, what do you expect out of this nonsense....separatist....idiot..

    September 28, 2011 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  10. Marcelo

    Perry!!!!!! What happened dude? The first time you answered this it was passionate and honest! Don't back off dude just to please the Slea-ze Party!

    September 28, 2011 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  11. Rudy NYC

    I find it curious that whenever a conservative speaks the truth, peer pressure forces them to retract it.

    September 28, 2011 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  12. Donkey Party

    Wanting the uninsured to die, cheering for executions, booing active servicemen... you were right the first time.

    September 28, 2011 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  13. Cp3o

    No way! Illegal immigration is a federal issue. Typical....

    September 28, 2011 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  14. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    What happened Ricky, did the big bad Tea Party scare ya??? You say ONE thing I can finally agree with you on now you want to walk it back. Typical in politics.

    September 28, 2011 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  15. Larry L

    Sadly the only thing Perry ever did that showed a heart or a brain was to educate children who are already here and aren't leaving. Even sadder that compassion is considered a character flaw in the modern Republican Party. Since deporting 11 million people is an impossible judicial, logistical, ethical, financial, and ultimately military challenge, I wonder what the right-winger plan to do with the children if they remain uneducated? However, in that condition they'd make great Tea Party members!

    September 28, 2011 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  16. JP

    Giving illegals benefits is brainless. Since we already have someone in the whitehouse who is brainless lets not make it 2 in a row with the illegal lover Perry

    September 28, 2011 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  17. Tony in Maine

    That figures. The first time he's been correct in years and he backs off it because the Tea Party got their knickers in a bunch.

    September 28, 2011 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  18. T'sah from Virginia

    Perry got the vaccination right and Perry got the Texas-Style Dream Act right. But now, he's wrong for backing away!!!

    The candidates from the RIGHT are clueless as to what the majority of Americans want!! They are so bent on appeasing the far-RIGHT Tea Party that they forgot about who they used to get along with in the past. The tattered" and "torn" RIGHT will fail no matter who they put in the race – Christie knows this!!!

    Obama/Biden 2012!

    September 28, 2011 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  19. todd in DC

    I don't know if GOP is heartless, but they sure are brainless and pointless.

    September 28, 2011 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  20. Ian

    Mitt Romney can't talk about "values" in one speech and then say something isn't a matter of the heart. Also it is a matter of the brain: if people are here, illegal or not, it is better to have them educated.

    September 28, 2011 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  21. thomas

    Yes ,
    he's right the first time. However , Texas has the highest teen drop out rate in the USA.

    Perry / Enron
    A job well done !

    September 29, 2011 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  22. Aaron

    Talk about butt-kissing! Perry seems to have it down. Nothing worse than a man who won't defend his beliefs. He was all about federalism until the religous fanatics insisted that gay marriage be banned federally, not on a state level as a true federalist would insist on.

    September 29, 2011 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  23. J.V.hodgson

    HIs ideas of extending education funding to illegals is one reason why they keep coming illegally. Add to that guaranteed medical admission and care if serious enough, and lax employment laws and or poor enforcement or both = Labour paid at less than minimum wage.
    If you cannot think properly before speaking and then have to be contrite, ( its not his first faux (FOX NEWS) pa and it wont be his last QED not fit for the Presidency.

    September 29, 2011 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  24. Mike D

    He had it right the first time. All the heartless MFs in his party didn't like the mirror put in front of them on National television.

    September 29, 2011 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  25. Steve

    and I quote from the article;

    "But here's what I do believe: it's a state's sovereign right to decide that issue for themselves.""

    hmmmm...where did that come into play in our country's history before....lets see...oh thats right, the civil war. Guess ole Perry isnt too far off in his desire to secede from the nation.

    He has alluded to it before, not like everyone doesnt know about his bass ackwards views and that he is nothing more than a shill for corporate interests. A shark in cowboy boots, nothing more.

    September 29, 2011 03:25 am at 3:25 am |
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