ABC News’ Michael Falcone, Emily Friedman and Arlette Saenz report:
Though New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was vague about his own presidential ambitions during an appearance at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on Tuesday night, he did take direct aim at the current front-runner for the Republican nomination.
During a Q&A session Christie took issue with Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s assertion at a debate last week that refusing to provide discounted college tuition to illegal immigrants was heartless.
“I want every child who comes to New Jersey to be educated, but I don’t believe that for those people who came here illegally, we should be subsidizing with taxpayer money, through in-state tuition their education,” Christie said. “And let me be very clear from my perspective: That is not a heartless position that is a common sense position.”
Perry, who as governor of Texas supported a bill allowing the children of illegal immigrants to receive in-state tuition at Texas colleges and universities, said at a debate in Florida last week that anyone who disagrees does not “have a heart.”
“If you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they’ve been brought there by no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart,” Perry said. “We need to be educating these children, because they will become a drag on our society.”
It was a clear reference to his rival Mitt Romney, who, at the same debate, took a swipe at Perry on the in-state tuition law. Romney shot back a day after the debate.
“My friend Gov. Perry says if you don’t agree his position on giving that in state tuition on illegals then you don’t have a heart,” Romney said at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando last week. “I think 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.”
In addition to aligning himself with Romney on Tuesday night, Christie also expressed dissatisfaction with the state of border security in the country: “Our borders have to be secure and we have done an awful job of doing that.”