Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romeny gave a speech in Florida Friday in which he talked a tough game on immigration, saying that “our country must do a better job of securing its borders.” He said it was time for “a high-tech fence” and insisted the country needs to “get tough on employers who hire illegal immigrants,” reports ABC News. Although Romney never mentioned Rick Perry by name, it was clear he was referring to the Texas governor who has what Time’s Michael Crowley characterizes as “a relatively moderate record on the issue.” Perry has supported granting in-state tuition to children of illegal immigrants, has qualified the idea of a border fence that covers the entire border as “ridiculous,” and even supported a guest worker program.
The Wall Street Journal says Perry could find that immigration is one of his “main weaknesses among tea party voters” and “Romney advisers have said they intend to exploit it.” Politico points out that Perry’s own supporters “are highlighting his stands on that topic that may not wear well with a majority of early-state Republican activists.” It seems Perry will have to walk a fine line between pleasing voters and his Texas donor base that tends to favor immigrants. Although it’s not clear how important the issue will be in the race, Republican primary voters “keep bringing immigration up” and many see it as “an urgent issue,” notes the Washington Post. Of course, a rhetoric that alienates too many Hispanic voters could end up haunting Republicans in the general election, but winning the nomination comes first.
In a separate piece, Politico points out that Perry’s 2010 book Fed Up! “may be one of the biggest gifts ever given to the opponents of a presidential candidate.” The book seems to be perfect for creating attack ads. In one section, for example, Perry describes Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme.” Ultimately, Perry will have to choose whether to embrace the book’s contents “and reaffirm a set of controversial, guaranteed-to-inflame views” or dismiss its views “and risk looking like a flip-flopper.”