Bryan Fischer
Way too soon to write obit for Perry
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By Bryan Fischer
October 1, 2011

Follow me on Twitter: @BryanJFischer, on Facebook at "Focal Point"

Gov. Rick Perry is reeling from the body blows delivered by his GOP opponents. He has serious vulnerabilities on the Gardasil mandate and more critically, on immigration, and he has rightly been pummeled for his in-state-tuition-for-illegal-aliens bill.

And he has been justly criticized for his debate performances. Gov. Perry is clearly not a strong debater and likely never will be. But his staff deserves some of the blame for not properly prepping him for debates two and three. They had to know aggressive questions were coming on immigration. Yet he appeared unprepared, and dug himself a deeper hole by questioning the compassion of ordinary Americans who just believe, as the Founders did, in the rule of law.

He has apologized, after a fashion, for the comment about our lack of "heart," but as as a street level encounter yesterday in North Carolina indicates, this immigration problem is going to dog him for the entire campaign (unlike the Gardasil issue) if he does not develop an effective response.

If this issue is not to torpedo Perry's campaign, he needs to do two things. One, he needs to present to the American people his specific plan for vigorous and assertive border control. It's got to be specific and detailed, including just how many boots on the ground he'd assign to the task, where he would get them, where he would put them, and exactly where he'd supplement that with electronic surveillance equipment.

He needs to continually remind the American people that we have 30,000 troops securing the border between North and South Korea. If we can use troops there, there's no reason why we can't use them here. Securing and defending our southern border is a proper role for the commander-in-chief and the military since a secure border is necessary for national security. If Perry pledges to militarize our border and will tell us how he's going to do it, he may allay the fears of the faithful.

He needs to emphasize that he does support double-layer security fences where they do the most good, in metropolitan areas, and emphasize their effectiveness. He needs to point out that the effectiveness of those border fences is increasing the challenges in unsecured stretches of the border as illegals are forced by these fences to more remote areas. He's got to convince us that he has a plan to seal all 2,000 miles of our border with Mexico. If he doesn't do that, he's unlikely to win.

He needs to convince us that he is dead serious about border security, because right now conservatives doubt it. He will not win unless he goes on offense on the immigration issue.

Secondly, he not only needs to tell us how he's going to seal the border, he needs to tell the American people that as president he will vigorously support efforts that states make to deal with the immigration problem. He needs to pointedly say that he supports Alabama's right to deal with the problem of illegal immigration as it sees fit, and that Arizona has the same right, even though what they did is a bit different than what he did in Texas. And he needs to tell the United States that he will never drag a state into court, as Obama has done, to stop them from implementing strong policies with regard to illegal immigration.

He needs to tell us that he will step up enforcement of existing immigration laws, and will accelerate compliance with deportation orders. He needs to tell the American people that he will work aggressively with every city which participates in the Secure Communities program.

He needs to tell us that he will remove if not prosecute every single individual involved in planning the Fast and Furious operation. He needs to invite Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Sheriff Paul Babeu to be official advisers to him on immigration policy.

And lastly, he needs to improve his performance in the remaining two debates. He's never going to be as fast on his verbal feet as a Newt Gingrich is, and the American people will not demand that he be. But he'd better do a better job on immigration the next time around. His staff needs to make sure that he is well rested so his energy level is as strong at the end of the debate as at the beginning.

Once he gets past the last debate, then he has the opportunity to do the retail campaigning he does best. He has a likeable demeanor, and his folksy speeches are winsome and effective. He connects with crowds when he's addressing them directly.

It's way too soon to write Rick Perry off. If he quickly gets his act together on immigration, he'll be fine. There is a deep and well-justified resistance among conservatives to Mitt Romney, and Gov. Perry needs to restore the confidence of grassroots Americans that he is the best alternative.

But he's got no time to lose.

(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)

© Bryan Fischer

 

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