Perry: I shouldn't have called people heartless for opposing in-state tuition for illegals

Via Newsmax, skip to 5:25 for evidence that his wife was right when she told Iowans this morning that he’ll be better prepared for the next debate. He’s smoother this time, emphasizing that it’s a highly bipartisan position in Texas and notably avoiding any insinuations about how evil those wingnuts in his base are. (Also: No rambling about saving a pretzel for the gas jets.) He might also note at the next debate that he’s hardly alone among prominent Republicans in backing the idea:

In 2001, Perry signed the first state law in the country that allowed the children of illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates. Former Florida state Rep. Juan Zapata said the Texas law was “the model” for legislation that he repeatedly—but unsuccessfully—pushed in his state. Two of his key allies then are now among the GOP’s most sought-after stars: [Jeb] Bush, the subject of perpetual draft movements to run for president, and his fellow Floridian, Sen. Marco Rubio, a sure bet for the GOP’s vice presidential shortlist in 2012.

“I think that is a fair policy,” Bush said in an e-mail to National Journal on Tuesday, adding that the students who benefit from the tuition breaks find themselves in the United States through “no fault of their own.”…

Rubio, the son of Cuban exiles, was the co-sponsor of such a bill in 2003 and 2004, before he became speaker of the Florida state House. Bush, whose wife was born and raised in Mexico and who speaks fluent Spanish, also championed the legislation…

“In times of cutbacks, it would not be as high a priority as it would be in times of abundance,” [Bush] said. In the email, he also insisted he would have required “many years” residency in state for students to be eligible for the tuition breaks. The Texas law, as well the Florida proposals, had a three-year residency requirement.

Rubio was asked about in-state tuition for illegals in Florida a few weeks ago and argued that the bill he sponsored as a state legislator was narrow in scope, requiring a certain GPA to qualify for lower tuition rates. Okay, but in-state tuition for illegals in Texas ended up being pretty narrow too, applicable to just one percent of the state’s college students. If the defense is, “well, it might be bad policy but it doesn’t affect many people,” that ain’t much of a defense. Ace is worked up, meanwhile, that part of Perry’s damage control here is that he cares too darn much, but that’s no obstacle to primary success. Remember back during the 2006 immigration debate when McCain started throwing around analogies involving people riding in the “back of the bus”? He was “passionate” too, in the most demagogic way. He waltzed to the nomination.

Two clips for you here, the first of Perry’s chat with Newsmax and the second of Christie — who has his own troubles on immigration — taking a shot at tuition breaks for illegals last night.

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David Strom 8:41 PM on January 30, 2023