Noting that the number of eligible Hispanic voters increased by 23 percent between 2006 and 2010, Chris Good explains why the Texas governor should hold his ground on immigration even as the Tea Party boos:
Perry could offer the Republican Party its best chance to steal Latino votes from President Obama in a general election — not just because he sits to the left of the other candidates on immigration policy, but because of his tone. Republicans have harped on "amnesty" and deployed some heated, anti-illegal-immigrant rhetoric in recent years; Perry, when confronted on his alleged coddling of illegals, has at his disposal a few practiced lines about Latino contributions to Texas and its economy. … In a close race against Obama, an improved showing among Latinos could deliver the White House to the Republican.
Matt Lewis makes similar points. Previous discussion of Perry's immigration record here. The trouble is: the party base just isn't with him, indeed are defined in part by their discomfort with a multicultural America and minority groups – let alone illegal minority groups. Remember the actual immigration question from the CNN debate. It was in many ways more revealing than any of the answers:
What would you do to remove the illegal immigrants from our country?
If that's where the base is, I don't think providing in-state tuition fees is the right political answer.
(Photo: Mexican president Felipe Calderon (L) shakes hands with Rick Perry, governor of the state of Texas, at Los Pinos Residence in Mexico City 28 August 2007. Perry criticized the U.S. Congress Tuesday for failing to make progress on the immigration reform, saying its members lack the 'maturity' to sit down and discuss the issue thoughtfully. By Alfredo Guerrero/AFP/Getty Images)