PERRY, Iowa—In a campaign event billed as the “Bachmann Takes It to Perry Rally,” the Minnesota congresswoman did just that – focusing sharp criticism on Texas Gov. Rick Perry for his position on illegal immigration and what Rep. Michele Bachmann called “a pattern of issuing executive orders.
Bachmann, who has fallen in the polls since Perry entered the race, acknowledged that today’s event was orchestrated to highlight the differences between herself and the Texas governor, particularly on the issue of illegal immigration.
“This is Perry, Iowa, and we’re taking this issue to Perry, Iowa,” she said. “But obviously also it’s tongue in cheek, because the governor of Texas had also brought this issue up and was proud of the fact of offering in-state tuition credits to illegal aliens.”
Quoting numbers that she said came from the conservative Heritage Foundation, Bachmann told the crowd that illegal immigrant students cost the taxpayers of Texas $44 million dollars, a figure that came from adding up the amount those students would have paid in out-of-state costs, plus the cost of financial-aid packages they were given.
“That took very valuable, financial aid away from citizens of Texas who were here legally,” Bachmann said.
Illegal immigration has become a flash point in the 2012 election and has tripped up Perry, who continues to stand behind the Texas law and has said that those who disagreed with the plan don’t “have a heart” -- a statement he has since said he regretted.
Bachmann, who told the press that her campaign has heard from several Iowans who are upset about “taxpayer-subsidized benefits to illegal aliens,” made a point of attacking Perry directly on the issue, something she rarely does on the campaign trail.
“The Mexican government praised the governor of Texas,” she told the crowd. “The Mexican government praised Texas for providing these taxpayer subsidies to illegal immigrants. Well, of course they would--because the American taxpayer was paying for this benefit.”
She also went after Perry for the nenber of executive orders he has issued while governor and for his plans to use such orders as president. Perry has said he would use an executive order to get rid of Obama’s health care plan, and he recently said he would use executive orders to put his energy plans in place.
“With all due respect to Governor Perry,” Bachmann said, “it’s naive to think with an executive order, you can get rid of 'Obamacare.' You can’t. Plus, it’s unconstitutional. And so whether he wants to do an executive order to get rid of Obamacare, which would be ineffective, or an executive order to implement his energy plan, he’s wrong.”
Before speaking to the crowd, Bachmann signed “The Pledge,” a declaration of support for the construction of a border fence across the entire U.S. border with Mexico by the end of 2013. She is the first presidential candidate to sign the document, which was created by Americans for Securing the Border, a national advocacy group dedicated to stopping illegal immigration. The group’s chairman, Van Hipp, praised Bachmann for taking the action and called on all of the presidential candidates to follow suit.
Bachmann appears ready to continue pushing the issue of illegal immigration on the campaign trail. On Monday travels to Arizona, where she will meet with members of the state Legislature and law-enforcement officials. According to reports, she asked for the meeting to learn more about the state’s proposed border-fence initiative.