Perry on in-state tuition for illegals: How else were they supposed to pay for it?

Matt Lewis says he’s improving on this issue. I guess, but that’s mainly because after you’ve tried to win over voters by calling them heartless, there’s really nowhere to go but up. A scene from New Hampshire this morning:

“We have, for decades, had a federal government that has absolutely failed in its constitutional duty to defend our border,” Perry said.

“I’m a governor. I don’t have the pleasure of standing on the stage and criticizing. I have to deal with these issues,” he later added.

Perry continued, “In 2001, we had this choice: Are we going to kick these children over to the curb and say you cannot have access to college? Because the fact of the matter is there’s no way they could pay the out-of-state tuition. And are we going to have them on the government dole over here because they’re not educated? Or are we going to have them in our institutions of higher learning, paying in state tuition, pursuing citizenship?”…

David Connors, the man who asked Perry the in-state tuition question, said he was satisfied with the governor’s answer.

Really? There are no jobs for illegals anywhere in Texas to earn tuition money? I was under the impression that there are quite a lot of jobs available to them, especially since Perry opposes e-Verify. This is the same sleight of hand he tried to use in the debate answer that got him in trouble, equating illegals’ opportunity to go to school in Texas with some sort of moral imperative among taxpayers to subsidize their education. (His wife, campaigning for him in Iowa, framed the choice as between tuition subsidies or welfare.) Somehow, the impoverished U.S. citizen from Mississippi is expected to pay his own way in Austin but the illegal who’s lived in Texas for three years gets a stipend from the locals. And not just in terms of lower tuition rates; apparently they qualify for financial aid too. It must be awfully confusing for Perry, as a “Texas Gaullist” and vocal champion of state sovereignty, to find that prioritizing state residency over national citizenship doesn’t play well with grassroots conservatives outside of Texas itself, but he’d better find clarity soon.

Here’s Romney’s new ad bludgeoning Perry with praise he once received from former Mexican President Vicente Fox. After you watch, read this amusing scolding (which notes some of Mitt’s own immigration heresies) from former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson, who seems genuinely surprised that Romney would pander so shamelessly on a divisive issue simply to destroy an opponent. That was the old, soulless Romney. The new, soulful Romney should be above that sort of thing. Right?

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