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Mr. Governor, It’s Time To Raise Your Game On Immigration

I like Rick Perry as my governor and I like him even more as a man. He has out of the blue, unceremoniously, with no press or fanfare called me on my cell phone (who gave him my number!!??) to give his personal thoughts and prayers as I faced personal tragedies. That, to me, was remarkable. It meant the world to me and raised my opinion of a governor whom I already thought was doing a pretty good job. Having said that, I am a commentator — and editorialist. I have never and will never run away from an opinion that is varying from those I interview. That has always been the case when I have interviewed the governor. I disagreed with the governor on the Trans Texas Corridor and went at him on it. On my show, face to face, he said, “the Trans Texas Corridor is dead.” He responded to the people of the great state of Texas and their disdain over that project by killing it. He did something similar when it came to the HPV vaccine. He signed the order for the vaccines — then backed off when the people spoke. He seems at the very least reticent to do the same when it comes to immigration. Fact is, if he wants to win the nomination — and I think he’d be a great nominee — he’s going to have to face the music on what to do with illegal immigrants here in the country. He’s also going to have to revisit his belief that those here illegally qualify to have their education subsidized by the rest of us. As for his performance in tonight’s debate? I give him a C. I felt the swagger was missing many times and his answers wandered at others. That’s not okay when you’re facing an attack dog like Rick Santorum and a polished New Englander like Mitt Romney. He was sharp at times but, more often seemed introspective and almost quiet. It’s not the Rick Perry we here in Texas know. Was he tired? Did he have something else on his mind? Was he hungry? Guess what — it doesn’t matter. What does matter is what people who watched that debate will take away about him and his chances we be made or broken by these debates. When it’s go time — it’s go time and I’m not sure the governor gave it the go he’s capable of giving it. Quick personal anecdote. I used to work at a tiny FM in Belle Glade, Florida. It was a 52 mile drive for me each way and I constantly found myself running late. One day on the way out, I was stopped not ONCE but, TWICE for speeding. I got two tickets costing tons of money I didn’t have. Boy was I angry. I got on the air and was disgruntled, unenthusiastic, short with my words and snappy about what I was saying. My boss heard me and walked in and asked, “hey Joe — you having a bad day?” “Sure am,” I said. He said, “well, I don’t give a f^%&, you have a job to do. Suck it up and sound good on my radio station or get off my air.” Point well-taken. It’s kinda what I wanted to say to the governor tonight. You have a couple of hours to shine as many of us know you can. He did NOT present himself as the confident, no-nonsense man many Texans know him to be. I don’t know why — and frankly, don’t care. The job at hand is to show you can be the next president of the United States. And, unfortunately, that means bring it every single time. To the actual issues. The governor did just fine when it came to the HPV issue. He’s defended himself well before and did a great job tonight. That issue, I believe, goes away now. Social Security is another topic he was attacked on again — and did just fine. It is a Ponzi scheme — and saying that is not a negative. Saying he’s got a way to save it and will not take it away from anyone who gets it was good.. at least better than not really offering a plan for that program in the future. But, all of the wind came out of the governor’s sails and he seemed to lose his confidence and energy on immigration. The issue of a border wall or fence is red meat for conservatives and he was an easy target on that as he’s against such a structure. But, he, yet again, proved to be especially vulnerable on the issue of in-state tuition for illegals. Fact is, the governor believes anyone who gets a public K-12 education in Texas (illegals cannot be denied an education as per a Supreme Court ruling) and who has lived in this great state for three years should be able to get in state tuition. This is looked at as an invitation for people to come here illegally and reap the benefits of our tax dollars to subsidize their education. As a matter of fact, three other candidates (Bachmann, Romney and Santorum) called this policy a “magnet” for illegals (one wonders if they planned on using the same word to attack Perry’s stance on this issue). Conservatives disagree with this policy vehemently. The argument the governor has used is not resonating either. His comments that allowing for in-state tuition will somehow keep illegals off of the entitlement dole doesn’t make sense as exposed by Rick Santorum. Santorum’s point was — why offer the “magnet” of in-state tuition? If they want to go to a Texas higher-learning institution, they should pay full price. Period. And, he’s right. My biggest surprise from the debate was not that this is what the governor believes. It’s that he doesn’t have a better answer prepared for the question. He and his people know it’s coming and still there is not an answer ready to get republicans and conservatives to come to a better understanding of why this makes sense. A good question might be, “why won’t the governor listen to the people and make a similar decision as he did to the unpopular TTC and HPV issues?” Do I think the governor still has a good shot? Yes! I think there is much work to do on the issue of immigration, however. And, that work needs to be done quickly. For what it’s worth, I feel Herman Cain won the debate. If you like this — why not “share” it with your connections. I look forward to your comments! Pags