ORLANDO — Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney continued attacking Texas Gov. Rick Perry on immigration Friday, mocking Perry’s comment in a debate the day before that people who didn’t agree with Perry’s stand on the issue don’t “have a heart.”
“I think if you’re opposed to illegal immigration, it doesn’t mean you don’t have a heart, it means you have a heart and a brain,” Romney told a crowd of several thousand activists here for the Florida conference of the Conservative Political Action Committee.
The dispute centers on a Texas policy approved by Perry that allows the children of illegal immigrations to pay in-state tuition at the state’s public colleges, giving them a significant cost reduction compared with students from the other 49 states. On Friday, Romney called this policy a “magnet” drawing illegal immigrants that “cannot be sustained.”
Perry strongly defended that policy at the Thursday debate, saying, “If you say that we should not educate children that have come into our state for no other reason than they’ve been brought here by no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart.”
The Texas governor is due to speak here Friday afternoon. Florida Republicans are hosting three days of events for the GOP field, concluding with a straw poll Saturday that Perry is expected to win, as Romney is not competing in it.