Cynthia Tucker examines the cost of the Republican party’s hardline stance against immigration in her column, “Anti-Immigration GOP Will Lose Latino Voters:”
Which of a long list of shortcomings doomed Rick Perry’s campaign for the presidency? Certainly, he is among the world’s worst debaters, a dim-bulb on foreign policy and a right-wing theocrat whose “pro-life” credentials stop short of fair trials for defendants in capital murder cases.
But similar attributes were not early disqualifiers for Herman Cain. Why didn’t Perry’s tenure in Texas and his stature among social conservatives keep him aloft longer?
Perry’s undoing may have been the moment that — for me, anyway — was his best in a series of embarrassing debate performances: his stand-up defense of the Texas policy that allows undocumented students to pay the same rates of tuition that legal residents of the state pay to go to college.
“… The bottom line is, it doesn’t make any difference what the sound of your last name is. That is the American way,” Perry said in a Sept. 12 debate.
He went on to remark that those who oppose the policy “don’t have a heart,” drawing boos from some in the audience. Immediately, the blogosphere and Twitterverse lighted up with denunciations of Perry from the right and predictions that his campaign was done.
Since then, the only Republican candidate who has dared come close to enunciating an immigration policy with a smidgen of compassion or common sense has been Newt Gingrich, who has suggested that longtime illegal workers with family ties to U.S. citizens be given special consideration. Gingrich’s rivals have adopted positions that range from cavalier to cruel toward the unauthorized workers who have filled a critical void in the American labor force.