The two-hour debate, co-sponsored by the Tea Party Express and CNN, promises to include some topics that rarely come up in national political forums, such as the candidates' views of the Constitution and the Federal Reserve.Immigration is also expected to come up:
"We should ask them their constitutional reasoning for wanting to legalize illegal aliens. Where do they find that authorization?" asked Jerry DeLemus, chairman of the Granite State Patriots Liberty Political Action Committee, which includes several New Hampshire tea party groups.I'm interested in that line of questioning because I want to hear Rick Perry explain why he signed the bill offering in-state tuition to children of illegals. Oh, I've heard him explain about border security and how we can't even discuss immigration reform until we secure the border, but I disagree. I think they're two separate issues, but I think Perry has to explain his position on immigration. He can't just say, Oh well get to that later, and walk away.
Removing "the magnet" or the incentives is important, at least, according to Romney:
"We must stop providing the incentives that promote illegal immigration,’’ Romney told more than 100 people attending a Republican Hispanic conference in Tampa. " As governor, I vetoed legislation that would have provided in-state tuition rates to illegal immigrants and I strengthened the authority our state troopers had to enforce existing immigration laws."
On the other hand, Rick Perry says he doesn't want to punish young people for their parents' actions.
In other words, the program is building up debt even as benefits become less sustainable as the baby boomers begin to retire and the ratio of workers to seniors shrinks. The feds will then have to pay out of other tax revenue to meet Social Security's obligations. This is the long-range problem Mr. Perry should attempt to explain, and the danger is that his rhetoric will scare the elderly rather than reassure them that reform is necessary for the sake of their grandchildren. He's now running to represent Republicans as their Presidential nominee, not hawking a book on conservative talk radio.
And so, this debate Monday evening is fairly important for Rick Perry.
The front-runner always gets the most intense scrutiny and Perry is taking some heat (no pun intended) over both these issues as well as his handling of the Texas wildfires. One of his aides had the total lack of tact to say that Perry's fundraising "is going like wildfire." Ouch.
Perry is also getting criticism for cutting funding to the Texas Forest Service, and volunteer firefighters, by 75% over the next two years. With some 50 or more wildfires burning across Texas, this is, well, awkward.
I suspect much of this works to Romney's benefit as Perry is forced on the defensive on these issues rather than the offense.
Perry is likely to maintain front runner status, and there is much he says that I support and agree with. But he will need to better articulate some of these issues or run the risk of losing out to the seemingly more moderate and less blustery Romney (who in fact has his own albatross.)