Mitt’s best moment from an otherwise rough night. Huck’s sleight of hand here is classically left-wing, equating the denial of benefits to which the recipient was never entitled with “punishment,” the confiscation of a right already held. He insists the scholarship program would have been a revenue-generator by turning tax-takers into taxpayers, in his formulation, but of course he doesn’t factor in the expense generated by the incentive it gives to further “tax-takers” to come to Arkansas and settle. The taxpayer/tax-taker thing’s a red herring anyway; this is obviously about charity for him, in which case it’s hard to discern why these scholarships should be limited by anything so mean as geography. If we’re going to spend American citizens’ money on scholarships for bright foreign students, why not just send money to Canada or Mexico for that purpose? The only difference between the talented 17-year-old illegal alien in Little Rock and the talented 17-year-old in Mexico City is that the parents of the former broke the law and got away with it. If Huck’s hung up on that promise to seek citizenship that he mentions as being one of the requirements, no problem: I’m sure the kid in Mexico City will be willing to promise that too in exchange for a free education.

Notice too how Huck falls back on his personal “I came up the hard way” drama once Mitt puts him on the defensive. That’s a pointed way of accusing Romney, the child of privilege, of being out of touch. Between that and his weaselly insistence that illegal alien kids without scholarships are being punished by America instead of by their parents’ decision to come here, you can see why Mitt calls him a liberal.

Update: Think progress! “Huckabee is likely to suffer for refusing to demagogue immigration.”

Update: Reader Vaughn R. makes a good point:

The tag beneath the picture on Hotair says, “Mike, that’s not your money.” I agree, it’s not Mike’s money and I am against it. However, which is better: tuition scholarships for what cannot be more than a handful of kids (remember, it was supposed to be merit-based scholarship) or Romneycare with discount abortions available for all citizens of Massachusetts?

I was shouting at the television: “Mitt, it wasn’t your money.” How come Massachusetts Mitt gets a free pass for his big government health care which is awfully close to Hillarycare 2007?