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The Brief: Sept. 29, 2011

On Wednesday, as Rick Perry retreated on a recent immigration remark, new polling spelled potential trouble for him.

Gov. Rick Perry campaigns at a private reception in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Aug. 15, 2011.

The Big Conversation:

On Wednesday, as Rick Perry retreated on a recent immigration remark, new polling spelled potential trouble for him.

In an interview with Newsmax, the governor said he regretted saying at last week's Republican debate that critics of a Texas law granting in-state tuition to the children of illegal immigrants don't "have a heart."

"I probably chose a poor word to explain that. … I was probably a bit over-passionate by using that word, and it was inappropriate," Perry said, adding, "In Texas in 2001, we had 181 members of the Legislature. Only four voted against this piece of legislation, because it wasn’t about immigration — it was about education."

Perry's comment at the debate drew sharp rebukes from Republicans, including his chief rival, Mitt Romney, who has since said that critics of the law have both "a heart and a brain." Even New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the recent object of many dissatisfied Republicans' affection, recently took issue with Perry's remark. "From my perspective, that is not a heartless position," Christie said Tuesday. "That is a common-sense position."

Perry's backpedaling came as two new polls out Wednesday — both conducted after the governor's widely panned debate performance last week — showed him slipping or under-performing. One, from Fox News, which last month put Perry ahead of Romney nationally, 29 percent to 22 percent, showed Romney now leading Perry, 23 to 19. The other, from American Research Group, showed Perry polling at fourth place with 14 percent in must-win Iowa, behind Romney (19 percent), U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (15 percent) and "undecided" (15 percent).

Though, as Nate Silver of The New York Times' FiveThirtyEight notes, while Perry appears to have dipped slightly in polls since last week, Romney hasn't gained. Instead, Perry's losses appear to have benefited other candidates like Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich.


  • The new polling may reflect Rick Perry's loss of favor among Republicans for his derided debate showing and immigration stance, but first lady Anita Perry, who has taken on an increasingly (and uncharacteristically) visible role in her husband's campaign, has a message for worried Republicans: "Keep in mind," she told an Iowa GOP group earlier this week, "Rick is the same governor who vetoed driver's licenses for illegal aliens, who fought to keep sanctuary cities out, and who just billed the federal government $350 million for the cost of incarcerating illegal aliens."
  • The Dallas Morning News reports that a federal appeals court on Wednesday declined to reinstate Texas' abortion sonogram law while a U.S. district judge's August ruling — which struck down key components of the law — awaits appeal.
  • Businessman Herman Cain, who defeated Rick Perry at the Florida Straw Poll this weekend in a surprise upset, told CNN on Wednesday that he wouldn't support Perry in a general election. “Him being soft on securing the border is one of the reasons,” Cain said. “I feel strongly about the need to secure the border for real."
  • Texas has added back more than 90 percent of the jobs it lost during the recession, but several factors, including lagging consumer confidence, will likely keep economic growth low next year, the state's top revenue estimator said Wednesday.

“There is enough chatter and phone calls and static — whatever you call it in the spy business — that everyone is just sitting around.”Ray Washburne, a Dallas businessman and now-uncommitted former supporter of Tim Pawlenty, to The New York Times on uncertainty in the Republican presidential field


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