Daniel Doherty

On Monday, Texas governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry was lauded by an unlikely political figure – former President Bill Clinton – over the controversial ruling he signed into law in 2001 granting in-state tuition to children of illegal immigrants. CNN reports:

 

The former two-term Democratic president said it makes his "skin crawl" when Perry's Republican rivals attack him "for one of the best things he did."

"What would they like?" Clinton said during an interview with USA Today. "Would they like the kid to stand on a corner and sell dope or something?"

Perry has defended the law, which he signed in 2001, amid criticism from fellow GOP presidential contenders, particularly Mitt Romney.

The former Massachusetts governor has doled out tough words for Perry over the "liberal" policy while positioning himself to Perry's political right on the issue. On Monday, Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom tweeted a link to the USA Today story.

 

Although the story is making headlines today, President Clinton’s explicit endorsement of Perry’s unpopular policy will do little to galvanize GOP voters behind him in the 2012 Republican primaries. According to an ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted September 29-October 2 – shortly after the September 22 debate in which Perry opined to his Republican audience “I don’t think you have a heart” for disagreeing with his stance on granting illegal immigrants in-state tuition – the Texas governor dropped thirteen percentage points since the survey was last taken in August. Indeed, several key national polls available on Townhall.com’s Poll Tracker indicate similar results. While it’s fair to say there were many factors that contributed to the demise and unexpected implosion of Perry’s campaign in late September, the Texas DREAM Act, in my view, seems to be at the heart of it.

But with less than 60 days until the Iowa Caucus, can Perry revive his campaign and stage an unlikely comeback? President Clinton seems to think so:

 

"It's always a mistake to underestimate your opponent," Clinton said. "People grow in these campaigns. How many times have you seen somebody get better in the course of an election? And it's also unpredictable what happens."

 


Daniel Doherty

Daniel Doherty is Townhall's Deputy News Editor. Follow him on Twitter @danpdoherty.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography