BLEEDING-HEART RICK PERRY
I thought Rick Perry wriggled out of the Social Security trap he got himself into, both in his USA Today op-ed and in tonight's debate -- let's face it, if he piously denies that he wants to destroy Social Security, he'll get a do-over, because it's early in the campaign, and besides, he's a Republican (and half the "liberal media" essentially agrees with him anyway on the advisability of gutting entitlements).
So it's probably pointless for Romney to keep pressing this issue. He should just take advantage of the huge opening Perry gave him (and the rest of the field) tonight:
Perry, who signed a Texas version of the DREAM Act (which allows young people in the country illegally to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities) drew several rounds of boos when he defended the policy.
"If you've been in the state of Texas for three years, and working toward citizenship, you pay in-state tuition," said Perry. "It doesn't matter what the sound of your last name is. That's the American way."
The point, he said several times, is to allow immigrants to become "contributing members of our society, rather than be on the dole."
As he has often done, Perry reiterated this evening that he does not believe a fence along the entire border is feasible.
"The idea you're going to build a wall from Brownsville to El Paso and go left to Tijuana is not reality," said Perry to booing.
Yeah, he talked about having thousands of National Guard troops and Border Control agents, plus air support. But still: He's against the fence! He supports giving a tuition break to illegal immigrants! Apart from Democrats and liberals, there is nobody -- nobody -- the average wingnut hates more than illegal immigrants. Wingnuts hate them more than they hate Al Qaeda.
Romney positioned himself a bit to Perry's right (Romney's for the fence), but he should just do the cynical thing and go hardcore on this. He has to do something to keep Perry for steamrolling him. If he wants the nomination, he should take the most extreme, draconian position he possibly can on immigration, and slam Perry for what he's said. Perry will have more trouble backtracking on this than on Social Security -- he hasn't actually taken any actions as governor with regard to Social Security, but he has actually signed this version of the DREAM Act. Also, he knows he can't be too extreme on immigration if he ever wants to win an election in Texas again (which he'll have to do if he loses the presidential election).
Romney did, of course, have undocumented immigrants working at his house in 2007, so he's vulnerable. But screw it -- he's in a deep hole now, and trying to be Mr. Reasonable ain't gonna get him this nomination. This is an issue on which he can try to make Perry look like a liberal. The only way Perry's going to lose this nomination is if wwingnut voters think he's less than conservatively correct.
Oh, and four years ago Perry endorsed Rudy Giuliani, a squish on immigration by wingnut standards. C'mon, Mitt, you have no principles. Go for it.