"... 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 -- 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."Governor Rick Perry came out with his gloves on in this his strongest appearance at a debate yet. And the statement above is what flew out of Governor Romney's mouth when the fight in the ring really got going.
"I'm running for office, for Pete's sake, I can't have illegals."The exchange between the two candidates was awkward and uncomfortable to watch. I'm not necessarily defending Perry's tactics. But what I think is important here is what Romney didn't say. Would the illegals have been OK to mow his lawn if he wasn't running for office?
|Govs Romney and Perry spar at the CNN hosted debate|
The complete transcript can be found HERE.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.