Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele told The Daily Caller that it was a “very conservative” decision for 2012 Republican presidential candidate Gov. Rick Perry of Texas to give in-state college tuition rates to illegal immigrant students.
“I think it is actually fairly conservative to look at, very conservative, to look at solving the problem in a way that empowers people, gives them opportunities to get out of harms way — fiscally or whatever — and to move the state forward and so you know, not reckless spending, you know, not the kind of just-create-a-program-for-the-sake-of-creating-a-program that we’ve seen in many prior state government and federal government operations,” he told TheDC during an interview in Washington on Friday.
Steele also compared Perry’s position to GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney signing a state-funded health care plan into law when he was governor of Massachusetts.
“I think Governor Perry acted in the best interest of the people of Texas: What they wanted, consistent with what they wanted. And so you can’t second guess him on that. The same with Mitt Romney in Massachusetts on his health care plan. He saw a need, he listened to the people of his state, he filled that need as best he could to make his state whole, not only in terms of the health care services they provide, but financially,” said Steele.
Perry apologized for saying that those who do not support his position do not “have a heart,” but he still stands by his decision.
“I was probably a bit over-passionate by using that word and it was inappropriate,” Perry admitted to Newsmax. “In Texas in 2001 we had 181 members of the legislature — only four voted against this piece of legislation, because it wasn’t about immigration, it was about education.”
In the CNN/Tea Party Express GOP presidential debate on September 12, Perry said that if a person who has lived in Texas for three years is currently pursuing their college degree and U.S. citizenship, then they “pay in-state tuition there. And the bottom line is, it doesn’t make any difference what the sound of your last name is. That is the American way.”
He added, “No matter how you got into that state, from the standpoint of your parents brought you there or what have you, and that’s what we’ve done in the state of Texas.”