Where They Stand: Rick Perry on issues of 2016 campaign

AP News
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Posted: Jun 04, 2015 3:55 PM

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is seeking the 2016 Republican nomination for president. Here's a snapshot of where Perry stands on issues likely to be debated in the campaign.

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IMMIGRATION

Perry signed a 2001 law offering in-state tuition at Texas' public universities to some students in the country illegally. Challenged on that law in a 2011 primary debate, he told conservative critics "I don't think you have a heart." He's since been less vocal about his support for the law, but hasn't renounced it. Also during the 2012 campaign, Perry said building a wall the length of Texas' 1,250-mile border with Mexico wasn't realistic to anyone who knows the area. More recently, though, Perry has ducked questions about overhauling federal immigration policies by saying that nothing like that can be done until the border is "fully secured." Perry deployed 1,000 National Guard troops to the Rio Grande Valley last summer when unprecedented numbers of children, mostly from Central America, were pouring into Texas. He says the "surge" of National Guard troops not only slowed the flow of immigrants but lowered crimes such as drug- and people-smuggling. Critics, though, accuse him of cherry-picking statistics and altering the operation's goals to put a positive spin on an action that had little more than symbolic effect.

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FOREIGN POLICY

Perry says he'd support American combat troops in Iraq to fight Islamic State militants. He also opposes the Obama administration's emerging nuclear deal with Iran. Perry skewered fellow GOP presidential candidate Rand Paul last summer as an "isolationist." He led an economic mission to Britain, Germany, Poland and Ukraine in the fall but returned early as the first U.S. cases of Ebola were diagnosed in Dallas. More recently, Perry flip-flopped on the U.S. Export-Import Bank, advocating for its charter to be extended last year but reversing course in May.

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BUDGET AND ENTITLEMENTS

Perry boasts that he signed 14 years of balanced budgets in Texas, oversaw the largest tax cut in state history and never raised taxes. Texas' state constitution mandates a balanced budget, but its Legislature sometimes uses accounting gimmicks to achieve it. Perry oversaw property tax cuts in 2006 that were by some measures the state's largest. But those cuts increased business taxes and other fees, making the third part of his claim about taxes dubious. Perry branded Social Security a Ponzi scheme in his 2010 book "Fed Up!" and suggested it was based on a failed social experiment that spread through America "like a disease." As governor, he funneled millions to lure top employers to Texas or bolster startups in a state that led the nation in job creation during most of his tenure. But some of those incentives had skimpy accountability and thin results. Texas has the nation's highest rate of people without health insurance. Like many other Republican governors, Perry refused to expand Medicaid under President Barack Obama's health care law, likening the entitlement to "the Titanic."

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SOCIAL ISSUES

Last year, Perry likened homosexuality to alcoholism as a condition that can be controlled, then backed off. Perry wrote in "Fed Up!" that gay marriage policy should be left up to individual states, but signed a pledge as 2012 presidential candidate to back a federal constitutional amendment restricting marriage to heterosexual couples in all states. Yet Perry said in April that he "probably" would attend a gay wedding. Perry signed some of the country's toughest abortion restrictions in 2013. But he has opposed a full federal abortion ban, suggesting that it should be left up to the state to set policy. Perry also said for years that he opposed abortion in all cases except rape, incest and when the life of the mother was threatened. But while campaigning for president in 2011, he signed a pledge in favor of banning abortion without exceptions for rape or incest.

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CLIMATE CHANGE

Perry calls climate change science "unproven." Under him, Texas filed 17 lawsuits against the Environmental Protection Agency, many alleging government overreach from stricter pollution controls. Perry said of Obama administration rules limiting carbon emissions in 2012, "I don't believe that we have the settled science by any sense of the imagination to stop that kind of economic opportunity."