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The Exchange.

It got nasty and personnel during the Republican debate on Tuesday, October 18, 2011.

What started out as a reasonably innocent question on health care for children in Texas turned into an all out war of words between Mitt Romney and Rick Perry.

Perry briefly answered the question and then took lined up a haymaker aimed right at Romney.

After that, it was on.

(The following is the transcript of the exchange between Romney and Perry. Our analysis continues below the fold and after the transcript.)

[DEBATE MODERATOR] COOPER: Governor Perry, in the last debate, Governor Romney pointed out that Texas has one of the highest rates of uninsured children in the country, over one million kids. You did not get an opportunity to respond to that. What do you say? How do you explain that?

PERRY: Well, we’ve got one of the finest health care systems in the world in Texas. As a matter of fact, the Houston, Texas, Medical Center, there’s more doctors and nurses that go to work there every morning than any other place in America. But the idea that you can’t have access to health care, some of the finest health care in the world — but we have a 1,200-mile border with Mexico, and the fact is we have a huge number of illegals that are coming into this country.

And they’re coming into this country because the federal government has failed to secure that border. But they’re coming here because there is a magnet. And the magnet is called jobs. And those people that hire illegals ought to be penalized.

And Mitt, you lose all of your standing, from my perspective, because you hired illegals in your home and you knew about it for a year. And the idea that you stand here before us and talk about that you’re strong on immigration is on its face the height of hypocrisy.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Governor Romney?

ROMNEY: Rick, I don’t think I’ve ever hired an illegal in my life. And so I’m afraid — I’m looking forward to finding your facts on that, because that just doesn’t –

PERRY: Well, I’ll tell you what the facts are.

ROMNEY: Rick, again — Rick, I’m speaking.

PERRY: You had the — your newspaper — the newspaper –

ROMNEY: I’m speaking. I’m speaking. I’m speaking.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: You get 30 seconds. This is the way the rules work here, is that I get 60 seconds and then you get 30 second to respond. Right?

Anderson?

PERRY: And they want to hear you say that you knew you had illegals working at your –

ROMNEY: Would you please wait? Are you just going to keep talking?

PERRY: Yes, sir.

ROMNEY: Would you let me finish with what I have to say?

(BOOING)

ROMNEY: Look, Rick –

COOPER: I thought Republicans follow the rules.

ROMNEY: This has been a tough couple of debates for Rick, and I understand that. And so you’re going to get testy.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: But let’s let — I’ll tell you what, let me take my time, and then you can take your time. All right?

PERRY: Great. Have at it.

ROMNEY: All right.

My time is this, which is I have in my state — when I was governor, I took the action of empowering our state police to enforce immigration laws. When you were governor, you said, I don’t want to build a fence. You put in place a magnet.

You talked about magnets. You put in place a magnet to draw illegals into the state, which was giving $100,000 of tuition credit to illegals that come into this country, and then you have states — the big states of illegal immigrants are California and Florida. Over the last 10 years, they’ve had no increase in illegal immigration.

Texas has had 60 percent increase in illegal immigrants in Texas. If there’s someone who has a record as governor with regards to illegal immigration that doesn’t stand up to muster, it’s you, not me.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Governor Perry, you have 30 seconds.

PERRY: You stood here in front of the American people and did not tell the truth that you had illegals working on your property. And the newspaper came to you and brought it to your attention, and you still, a year later, had those individuals working for you.

The idea that you can sit here and talk about any of us having an immigration issue is beyond me. I’ve got a strong policy. I’ve always been against amnesty. You, on the other hand, were for amnesty.

COOPER: I’ve got 30 seconds, then we’ve got move on to another immigration question.

ROMNEY: OK.

You wrote an op-ed in the newspaper saying you were open to amnesty. That’s number one.

Number two, we hired a lawn company to mow our lawn, and they had illegal immigrants that were working there. And when that was pointed out to us, we let them go. And we went to them and said –

PERRY: A year later?

ROMNEY: You have a problem with allowing someone to finish speaking. And I suggest that if you want to become president of the United States, you have got to let both people speak. So first, let me speak.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: So we went to the company and we said, look, you can’t have any illegals working on our property. I’m running for office, for Pete’s sake, I can’t have illegals. It turns out that once question, they hired someone who had falsified their documents, had documents, and therefore we fired them. And let me tell you, it is hard in this country as an individual homeowner to know if people who are contractors working at your home, if they have hired people that are illegal. If I’m president, we’ll put in an E-Verify system, which you have opposed –

COOPER:
Out of time.

ROMNEY:
— to make sure that we can find out who’s here illegally and not, and crack down on people who come here illegally.

Some people are knocking the Republicans for going after each other in the debates. In the discussion after the debate, someone said these types of attacks violate Ronald Reagan’s ’11th Commandment” of “thou shall not attack other conservatives.”

Normally we would agree with the Gipper, but these are not normal times.

The long term goal has to be kept in mind. We would much rather the Republicans fire broadsides at each other now, rather than when the Republican nominee and President Obama are debating. We would much rather have any “negative” ideas come to light now, rather than when Obama is on the stage and the whole country is watching. We would rather the candidates deal with the bombshells and haymakers now rather than when Obama brings them up.

And make no mistake about it, Obama will.

Bringing up the issues now lessons the impact when team Obama tries to divert attention from his miserable record and failure as president.

(We also have to admit that watching Romney and Perry going at it was great theater.)

Yet lost in all the discussion about the tenor of the debate and in particular this exchange, both men raised good points.

First, if Ronmey knowingly hired an illegal immigrant, he is toast or at least has a lot of explaining to do. With the weight of RomneyCare hanging around his neck like a an anchor, another move contrary to Rebublican and conservative values will hurt him greatly.

The other point that has to be addressed is any immigration reform that wants to penalize for hiring an illegal immigrant has to be not just hiring the illegal, but knowingly hiring the illegal immigrant. We cannot expect every homeowner to become a document expert. We can’t expect every person who wants to have their lawn cut or their hedges trimmed to access an “e-Verify” type of system.

The system cannot handle such a volume of requests. Furthermore, we have to make sure the immigration reform that is implemented does not harm the growth of the economy.

As conservatives, we always talk about the crushing weight of regulations. Having a homeowner verify a plumber, yard help, a handyman etc, will give the homeowner pause in hiring anyone. After all, why hire anyone if you can be convicted of hiring an illegal immigrant because the electrician had a great, fake ID?

Why take the risk?

In the end, requiring homeowners to be held accountable for innocently hiring a person who appears to be here legally will harm those individuals who simply “appear” to be immigrants.

Got an accent and a lawn care business? You won’t get hired.

Are you a great carpenter but “look” like a “foreigner?” You won’t get hired either.

That is not the American idea.

We need to make sure we are penalizing those who are here illegally and those who knowingly hire the illegal immigrant, not some homeowner who wants their grass mowed.

In the end, we support Perry in his general idea that if Romney knew he was hiring an illegal immigrant, that would be hypocritical. At the same time, we recognize Romney’s point that a homeowner cannot be held accountable for a worker on a crew, and should not be held accountable for verifying the immigration status of every person they hire to do work.

Even with the fireworks of the exchange, it is abundantly clear that Romney and Perry won’t be spending Thanksgiving together. Those two just don’t like each other.

What has to be remembered is the candidates had better develop thick skin now. It won’t matter who is the Republican nominee. Obama and the main stream media will be loaded for bear against them.

What we as Republicans and conservatives have to do is to be informed and vote for the person we believe is the best candidate and then support the Republican candidate, even if that person was not our personnel favorite choice.

The goal is the White House.

The goal is to undo the damage Obama has done.

Any one of the candidates up on the stage are better, smarter and more qualified than Obama.

Let the Republicans fight it out on the stage now. The real battle is next year.

And we don’t intend to lose.



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