GOP Debate: Could The Immigration Message Be Getting Through?
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This evening’s GOP Presidential debate was interestingly blogged about by both NumbersUSA and Dick Morris.

NumbersUSA commendably pulled out their check book and ran a (very PC) ad on immigration during the debate! (Ad targeting legal immigration to air during GOP debate By Josh Lederman The Hill 09/22/11.) This probably cost more than’s annual Budget, but it was an enterprising idea.

Dick Morris has said and done silly things over the years, but he has a long history of being alert to the immigration issue, and a remarkable record joining the winning side as it wins. So it is pleasant to find him stressing the potency of the question in the midst of his currently enthusiastic Republicanism.

Numbers USA’s most extensive quote was of Michelle Bachmann:

"9:44 First immigration question to Bachmann. She was asked if she believed if it's okay for states to enforce immigration laws even though the Constitution grants the power over naturalization to Congress.
Bachmann said that "the Federal Government has failed the American people and the states. Pres. Obama has sued the state of Arizona for trying to protect the people of its own state. As president, I would do the job of the President of the United States by protecting our sovereignty. I would build a fence on every mile of the border. I would also enforce every law on the books.
Bachmann also took a shot at Gov. Perry's record on in-state tuition by saying, "I would also not support tuition for illegal aliens." "

followed by one from Romney:

"9:48 Gov. Romney was then asked about his very vocal opposition to Gov. Perry signing the Texas Dream Act. He said "I don't see how it is that an illegal alien gets a discount to the University of Texas. If you're a U.S. citizen you have to pay $100,000 more for a four-year education. That kind of magnet draws people into this country to get that $100,000 break."

Gov. Romney then reinforced his position on enforcement, including mentioning E-Verify by name for the first time in the debates. "We have to have a fence, border patrol agents, a system like E-Verify, crackdown on employers, and turn off the magnet that draws illegal immigration.""

NumbersUSA added

"POST-DEBATE Pollster Frank Luntz spent 10 minutes with a focus group in Tampa discussing the immigration segment. The focus group was turned off by Gov. Perry's position on in-state tuition."

NumbersUSA concluded:

"...the storyline of tonight's debate was Gov. Perry's insistence to stand behind his decision to sign the Texas Dream Act, granting in-state tuition benefits to illegal aliens. Perry's response continues to be that these individuals will become a drag on society, but what he fails to understand is that with or without an education, these young people can't legally work in the United States. Plus, as Rick Santorum pointed out, no one is denying illegal aliens an education. Illegal aliens can still go to the University of Texas, but they should have to pay the same tuition rate that Arizona residents who attend the University of Texas pay.

Gov. Romney continues to maintain his strong position on illegal immigration, but he added something extra for this debate. This was the first time that he mentioned E-Verify. He didn't say that he supported a national mandate for it, but he did say we need a system like E-Verify, so he's getting closer.

Michele Bachmann has the best grade on our comparison grid, and she didn't do anything to jeopardize that rating tonight. She maintained her strong position on illegal immigration and challenged Perry on his in-state tuition position."

Morris, tersely Tweeting, was more incisive:

"Good answer by Bachmann on Arizona law. Good focus on fence Strong contrast with Perry.

Perry will not recover from the immigration debate. His opposition to the fence will hurt badly…
Perry's backing for instate tuition for illegals will hurt him badly as well…

So far the key exchange is over immigration and it has hurt Perry. I expect him to fall into a tie with Romney."

Overall I agree with John Anderson over at Youth for Western Civilization:

"In tonight's debate, even the candidates who previously have been squishy on immigration tried to appear to be strongly against illegal immigration. This shows that the grass roots has been having an effect in steering the debate away from the open borders policies favored by the elites, as the candidates all scramble to appear strong on the issue. As the campaign progresses, we can expect more of this, and will have to be on alert that we don't allow anyone to get fooled by someone who talks tough but has a spotty record on immigration."

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