Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney
, seemingly determined to show the GOP debate
audience that he can be as aggressive as anyone in the GOP field, fired a powerful broadside at Texas Gov. Rick Perry over the in-state tuition he granted to illegal residents in Texas.
“It’s an argument I just can’t follow,” said Romney. “I’ve gotta be honest with you. I don’t see how it is … to go to the University of Texas, if you’re an illegal alien you get an in-state tuition discount, you know how much that is? It’s $22,000 a year. Four years of college [its] almost a $100,000 discount if you’re an illegal alien to go to the University of Texas.
“If you’re a United States citizen from any other of the 49 states,” Romney said, “you have to pay $100,000 more. That doesn’t make sense to me. That kind of magnet draws people into this county to get that education, to get that $100,000 break. It makes no sense.”
Perry aggressively defended his position on in-state tuition.
“Well, I feel pretty normal getting criticized by these folks, but the fact of the matter is this: There is nobody on this stage who has spent more time working on border security than I have.”
Perry said of any candidates who would deny opportunities to children brought illegally into the nation: “I don’t think you have a heart.”
But when Perry said it was important to educate such children lest they become a drag on society, the Republican audience audibly booed his position.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum also jumped on Perry over the tuition issue.
“Why should they be given preferential treatment as an illegals in this country?” Santorum said. “That’s what we’re saying. So I’d say [Perry] is soft of immigration, the fact that he doesn’t want to build a fence.”
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