Amid all of the mistakes that plagued his 2012 presidential campaign, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow said on Thursday, the one lesson Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) apparently took was to make himself sound “tougher” on the latest wave of undocumented immigrants.
Perry, she said, “is dying to have a national comeback in politics. And he apparently thinks that in order to do that, he needs to have a do-over on seeming too soft on immigration issues. He needs to seem super tough. So he is calling for armed troops on the border to deal with this problem.”
Maddow explained that Perry has called for the National Guard to be deployed to the border separating his state from Mexico to stem the flow of “unaccompanied minors” from Central America. Obama has responded in part by asking Congress for $3.7 billion to be used to supply Border Patrol officials and processing centers with more resources for facilitating deportation proceedings for the thousands of immigrants that have made their way into the country.
What Perry seems to fail to realize, Maddow said, is that this group of immigrants is not sneaking into the country; instead, many of them are openly giving themselves up to authorities out of happiness that they reached U.S. soil.
“What exactly would armed troops do in this situation to help?” she asked. “Threaten to shoot kids and moms while these kids are peacefully turning themselves in with their hands in the air?”
But during his run for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, Maddow pointed out, Perry struck a much more nuanced tone when it came to the immigration issue — one that earned him very loud boos during a September 2011 GOP debate hosted by Fox News.
“If you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they’d been brought there by no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart,” Perry said at the time, just before getting jeered.
But in truth, Maddow said, even though Perry entered the Republican field as the presumptive front-runner and seemed like a great candidate on paper, it should have been apparent early on that he would not play well once he was actually campaigning.
Maddow then played a clip of Perry’s bizarre body language during an October 2011 appearance:
But less than a month later, she said, his campaign would suffer in front of a wider audience, when he drew a blank during another debate in November 2011, as he was about to say what three federal agencies he would eliminate. The moment brought the debate to a halt, with Perry sputtering, “Oops.”
“A lot of people thought the ‘Oops’ would just be the end of Rick Perry’s campaign for president,” Maddow said. “I mean, he came in as the front-runner. He was supposed to be the guy who was almost a shoo-in to win the nomination, and then, ‘Oops.'”
Watch Maddow’s commentary, as aired on Thursday, below.