ORLANDO, Fla. -- Walking through the halls of the Orange County Convention Center, you hear these words and phrases over and over again.
Perry. Immigration. Illegals. Tuition. Illegals. He didn't do as well as he could have. Why?
Almost every conversation I walked into was on the question of why Rick Perry approved a law that let young non-citizens get in-state tuition rates at Texas schools, and why he had characterized the program's critics as heartless. Dwayne Clark, an African-American sporting both Perry and Cain gear, was having an exhausting talk with a Cain backer named Carol Van Remmen.
"Look," admitted Clark. "Perry blew it. It's his fault that this is a discussion, because he did a bad job of explaining the program. There's no welfare for illegal immigrants. If they're in the state for three years, they're adding to the economy, they can get the tuition rates that Texans get."
Van Remmen couldn't be convinced. "I have grandchildren going to college," she said. "They're struggling. Their Pell grants aren't worth as much this year. The reason why is that all this money is going to illegal immigrants."
Some version of this debate was happening every few yards. A Perry backer, Dave Baldauff, who was handing out stickers and signs, kept brainstorming ways to re-frame it.
"He's got to do a better job explaining this," said Baldauff. "It doesn't help that Fox did a bad job. You can't explain this in 30 seconds, when Chris Wallace is asking you gotcha questions."
He got some unexpected help when a Santorum supporter walked by, stopped, and explained how Perry should explain that if he didn't sign that bill, well, the illegals would have gotten tuition deals from other states.
TODAY IN SLATE
The Right Target
Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.
The NFL Has No Business Punishing Players for Off-Field Conduct. Leave That to the Teams.
Meet the Allies the U.S. Won’t Admit It Needs in Its Fight Against ISIS
I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights
Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.
Should You Recline Your Seat? Two Economists Weigh In.
How to Stop Ebola
Survivors might be immune. Let’s recruit them to care for the infected.
- School District Wants to Censor American History Curriculum to Make It More Patriotic
- U.S. Federal Prison Population Drops for the First Time in Decades
- Conservative Star D’Souza Avoids Jail Time for Illegal Campaign Contributions
- Moderate Chinese Intellectual Sentenced to Life in Prison After Show Trial