SPENCER, IOWA – In his final stop in Iowa Saturday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry classified the decision to provide illegal immigrants with access to in-state tuition rates a decision based on economics, not heart.
“The issue was really driven by economics because of the federal government’s, again, failure to secure that border and us having to deal with it,” Perry told a crowd at the Pizza Ranch in Spencer, Iowa.
Kathryn Parsons, who is from near Spencer, raised the question about illegal immigration, telling Perry she didn’t understand how he could support it.
“Our country has a mess on its hands because the federal government has failed to secure the border with Mexico, and states have to deal with the aftermath of that,” Perry responded. “States are forced to deal with those individuals. We have to give health care. We have to give education. That is required by the federal government. They’ve failed on securing the border and then they’ve dumped it on the states.”
Perry faced questions on his support of in-state tuition for illegal immigrants at each of his events in Iowa Saturday, each time delivering a fine-tuned message which focused on the economic concerns facing Texas as it deals with the illegal immigrant population.
“Are we going to create a class of tax wasters or are we going to create taxpayers?” Perry asked.
Perry left out any notion that it is a matter of heart, which he suggested at a debate in Florida two weeks ago.
Perry, who was accompanied all day by his wife Anita, touted policies that he said spurred economic growth in Texas, at one point even joking, “I’m not an M.D., but I think I do I have a PhD in job creation, and that’s what America’s looking for.”
The Texas governor shot down the idea that the oil and gas industry is responsible for the job boom in Texas and argued the job growth actually occurred in the biomedical services and technology area.
“The area where we saw really robust and big growth was in biomedical services and the technology arena, and part of that was that we created this environment in the state where job creators knew that they could come and not be overburden by the tax structure, the regulatory climate.”
While Perry made his case to Western Iowa voters this weekend, he faces a challenge in another early primary state next week: He will debate the other Republican presidential candidates at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H.
Perry’s shaky debate performance in Florida two weeks ago, coupled with his loss at the Florida P5 straw poll, caused the Texas governor to plummet in the polls, raising questions about whether he is prepared for the national stage.
But in Iowa, Perry shook off the criticism, arguing voters are looking for a candidate who exudes honesty and carries a strong job-creation record like his own.
“I think America’s looking for a president who will look them right in the eye and tell them the truth,” he said. “I think they want a president who has the record of job creation. I think they want somebody that’s not about rhetoric, but that’s about record, and I think they want somebody that will draw a bright line between themselves and Barack Obama. I can do that.
“They are interested,” he added, “not in what some pundit says or the joke of the day that they try to get a laugh at a debate or on a television station. They are interested in a serious candidate who will get America working again. And we have the record that. We have the commitment of that. And I will suggest to you [that] Americans understand that government doesn’t create jobs.”