Clinton praises Perry over immigration
November 7th, 2011
10:56 AM ET
11 years ago

Clinton praises Perry over immigration

(CNN) – Bill Clinton came to Rick Perry's defense Monday over a law the Texas governor signed granting in-state college tuition to children of illegal immigrants.

The former two-term Democratic president said it makes his "skin crawl" when Perry's Republican rivals attack him "for one of the best things he did."

"What would they like?" Clinton said during an interview with USA Today. "Would they like the kid to stand on a corner and sell dope or something?"

Perry has defended the law, which he signed in 2001, amid criticism from fellow GOP presidential contenders, particularly Mitt Romney.

The former Massachusetts governor has doled out tough words for Perry over the "liberal" policy while positioning himself to Perry's political right on the issue. On Monday, Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom tweeted a link to the USA Today story.

Perry was a late entry into the race and quickly rose to the top of the polls but has seen his national and statewide numbers dip after a string of lackluster debate performances. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and Georgia businessman Herman Cain made similar surges in the polls, which analysts and pollsters have interpreted as dissatisfaction with the GOP field. But Clinton warned Democrats against dismissing the opposing presidential field.

"It's always a mistake to underestimate your opponent," Clinton said. "People grow in these campaigns. How many times have you seen somebody get better in the course of an election? And it's also unpredictable what happens."

Also see:

Cain scolds reporters: 'End of story' to sexual harassment claims

Paul has no plans for third-party bid

Sen. Hutchison: Perry's record is 'fair game'

Filed under: 2012 • Bill Clinton • Immigration • Rick Perry
soundoff (74 Responses)
  1. SaintM

    I'm a little shocked. Clinton seems to be endorsing Perry. (That may be his plan all along.)

    November 7, 2011 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  2. The Real Tom Paine

    A True Centrist, giving illegals a chance at a college education means they will be able to PAY more in taxes, instead of continuing to nibble at the margins. Did you stop to consider that before assuming every illegal is a leach on our system? They do the jobs we don't want to do, Perry was simply giving them a means to become more productive and be a legal part of the system. By the way, every time a person, either native-born, a legal immigrant or an illegal immigrant, purcahses a product, they are paying taxes in one form or another. Please think before you post.

    November 7, 2011 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  3. John

    So he praises Perry for immigration. Does he praise Cain for playing?

    November 7, 2011 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  4. aavasque

    Bravo Mr Perry and Mr Clinton (for defending a fundamental right for these people). This is the right thing to do. Ilegals immigrants work very hard, all day long, for a minimal pay and no benefits (this is the reason we can get cheap tomatoes and lettuces at the supermarket). Allowing their children to go to college is the least gesture that society can do to pay them back for all their hard work. For Mr. Perry: It is required to have a lot of courage to do this. This country needs people with strong character to lead us. My respects to leaders that do justice for these people. Mr Perry for President: Si Senor.

    November 7, 2011 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  5. 3rd Tyrant

    Rick Perry is Mr. Obama's easiest-to-defeat rival. Of course Bill Clinton, the consummate Machiavellian, would endorse him.

    November 7, 2011 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  6. jj

    Anything that Bill Clinton says is fine with me. But we will all vote for Obama in 2012!!!!!

    November 7, 2011 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  7. okieconservative

    it appears to me not many on this site have an accurate grasp of the facts in this case. simply put this texas legislation gives in state tuition to the children of illegal immigrants. it's not free, it's not a tax credit, after all they are residents of the state! in an ideal world all the illegals should be sent back to their homeland and instructed on the proper procedures to enter this coubtry, since the world isn't perfect, do you actually believe the government is going to round up 12-15million illegals? c'mon!! as perry indicated last week, work visas' are a step in the right direction. you don't have to like or agree with any of these jokers running for president but at least base your decisions on facts and not on the way you wish things were.

    November 7, 2011 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  8. Gabriel15

    Perry did the right think, at the right time. These are children we're talking about. And Clinton is no dummie....

    No wonder why this country is going to sh!t. Ignorance.

    November 7, 2011 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  9. Just Saying

    Mr. President,

    Perry's stance on immigration is not " of the best things he did." It is, so far as i can tell, the only thing about which he has ever been correct. Just Saying...

    November 7, 2011 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  10. MM

    I had to join the Marine Corps and deploy to Afghanistan twice and Iraq once to receive my education. What have these ILLEGALS done? They want a break, send them overseas to serve and EARN their education.
    And, anyone thinking these poor little ones are not the burden or illegal, look up "anchor babies" and all that it means to those who are pumped out on US soil.

    November 7, 2011 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  11. tom

    I, like many, wish that Obama would be more like JFK or FDR (Chris Matthews lays it out quite well), but I plan on voting for him. One caveat: If Huntsman is the repub nominee, I'd give him a second look (but it's too bad that he, like the other jackasses), rejecting the debate question of an increase of $1 for $10 in cost reduction).

    November 7, 2011 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  12. excitizen

    Who in their right mind would want to be educated in Texas anyway? Consider the polititians that state has created – I wouldn't send my kid to Texas to be educated if they cut the tuition to zero!

    November 7, 2011 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  13. Dave

    Comment from Bill Clinton only meant to further fracture GOP. He knows Herman Cain is done and so it's all to Romney, unless, unless he can save the guy he knows his Dems would crush in election.

    November 7, 2011 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  14. momomiester

    This cheating fraud of a former president has no morals or clue. He signs nafta that kills jobs in this country now he wants to flood the system with cheap tuition to illegals? What is wrong with this guy? Is he really that naive or does he just hate America? Perry is another fraud like Bush. Just all from the same corrupt cloth.

    November 7, 2011 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  15. v_mag

    If a person is born in America, he's a citizen. If he's born in Texas, he's a Texan, and he deserves in-state tuition. Do right-wingers want to obey the law, or are they only about denying civil rights?

    November 7, 2011 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  16. Millie Bea

    Clinton has either lost his mind or he is so desperate to get back into the public forum, he will say anything sensational. He is maligning his party- the work of his own wife- probably kept her out of the White House the first time.....and again there is not answer to what aboutthe children who are already citizens? Should they not be more important? Would you say another's children are more important than your own? This is the back door to letting millions of illegal immigrants stay in hos country- who have already broken out law and helped to damage the economy.
    There is a difference between a bleeding heart and an idiot.

    November 7, 2011 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  17. Johnny Come Lately

    Is anybody actually reading this article or understand this issue?!! First, nobody is getting a "free education" or any of your tax money. The bill simply provides children of illegal immigrants the benefit of paying in-state tuition costs. (as opposed to non-resident tuition costs which are much higher) Secondly, again, these are the CHILDREN of illegal immigrants, which means that they were born in the U.S. and are therefore, by our own Constitution's definition, U.S. citizens.

    November 7, 2011 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  18. JohnRJ08

    Clinton is a genius. He buries Perry's campaign with a compliment.

    November 7, 2011 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  19. Emperor Vadik, CA

    You've got to love the tactic....

    ...."sure, I'll praise Perry for something that the right will hate him for"....

    ....ahhhhh, only Bubba, only only can anyone not like Bill Clinton???

    November 7, 2011 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  20. AlaskaPalin

    Perry is very moderate. Most of the ideologies he espouses are what regular folks believe in. Clinton realizes the potential of the man to bringing us out of this economic malaise that's of obamas doing- so for once he is trying to be honest in his assessment of him as a 'will be' President.

    November 7, 2011 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  21. okieconservative

    by jove johnny come lately, i've believe you've got it!

    November 7, 2011 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  22. Alex Monrow

    And when it comes time to bury Mitt Romney, Clinton will praise his handling of health care.

    November 7, 2011 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  23. DumbasRocks [R]s

    Hey Dave, your comment just shows that not all of you Teatards are quite as dumb as you look!

    November 7, 2011 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  24. Joel Wischkaemper

    We must.. we must cause the Congress to allow us to vote on this issue. If we don't get that vote, Congress will suddenly EVERYTHING said before the election. We have to vote on it.

    It just doesn't occur to the leadership in the Democratic Party that the American People want to spend their money on their own families... NOT the illegal aliens they refuse to detain and deport. Is that screw ball or what?

    November 7, 2011 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
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