Texas Governor Rick Perry qualified a controversial remark he made about immigration policy at a recent Republican presidential primary debate in Florida.
At the Google/Fox News debate in Orlando on September 22, Perry was criticized by other nominees for allowing illegal immigrant college students in Texas to pay in-state tuition. In response, Perry said, “If you say we should not educate children who come into our state by no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart.”
The statement solicited boos from the audience and provided grist for his opponents. His closest competitor in the polls, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, told the Florida Conservative Political Action Conference, “If you’re opposed to illegal immigration, it doesn’t mean you don’t have a heart. It means you have a heart and a brain.”
Addressing the ongoing response to his debate statement, Perry told a Newsmax.com TV interviewer he “chose a poor word.”
Perry explained, “I was probably a bit over-passionate by using that word. And it was inappropriate. But here’s what I do believe: that it’s a state’s sovereign right to decide that issue for themselves.”
On September 26, Rhode Island joined Texas and a handful of other states in granting in-state tuition benefits to certain illegal immigrant students.