Perry walks back ‘heartless’ line during GOP debate: ‘It was inappropriate’

Amanda Carey Contributor
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Texas governor and presidential candidate Rick Perry backed away Wednesday from his comment in the Fox News debate in Orlando, Fla., last week that sent conservatives reeling. When defending his in-state tuition breaks for children of illegal immigrants, Perry said those who opposed it “did not have a heart.”

But in an interview with NewsmaxTV, Perry retreated from his comment.

“I was probably a bit over-passionate by using that word and it was inappropriate,” said Perry. “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.”

After the debate, Perry faced intense criticism for his performance and for his weak stance on immigration. Close rival Mitt Romney repeatedly attacked Perry on the issue, calling the in-state tuition breaks magnets “that draw illegals into the states”.

Florida’s delegates at the Presidency 5 convention were also disenchanted by the Texas governor’s remarks. In interviews, several delegates told The Daily Caller they were turned off by his stance on immigration. In the end, businessman Herman Cain went on to win the Florida straw poll by a 2-to-1 margin over Perry.

What Perry didn’t back down from in the interview, however, is his position that building a fence along the border is neither effective nor affordable.

“In the metropolitan areas where the fencing actually can play a positive role, absolutely,” he said. “But you have to have boots on the ground … having an obstacle without observation is no obstacle at all, so just the idea of building a fence and saying, ‘That will take care of it, let’s just build a fence,’ has never worked in the history of mankind.”

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