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Rick Perry Defends Immigration Policy, Stands By Ben Bernanke Criticism

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 09/29/2011 11:49 am Updated: 11/29/2011 4:12 am

Rick Perry once again defended his comments on immigration, telling CNBC Thursday that "we need to have an immigration policy that's thoughtful."

The Texas governor and GOP presidential candidate said it was the federal government's failure to secure the border with Mexico that prompted him to extend in-state tuition breaks to undocumented immigrants who have lived in Texas for three years or graduated from a Texas high school.

"The federal government allowed them to come in with their lack of security," Perry said. "We decided in our state it was better to have those kids be educated. How to cure that is for the federal government to secure that border."

It's not the first time Perry has criticized government at the federal level. He has also publicly spoken out against Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, saying "we would treat him pretty ugly" in Texas for what Perry views as "bad public policy."

He stood by his criticism of Bernanke in the CNBC interview Thursday, saying "The statement towards Chairman Bernanke needs to be very clear to him, that making monetary policy to cover up bad fiscal policy is just bad public policy."

Perry adopted the policy of allowing undocumented immigrants to receive tuition assistance at state colleges in 2001 because he believed "it was in the best interest of our state to have these young people educated than kicking them to the curb," he told CNBC.

During his campaign, Perry has said that he would solve the problem of drug trafficking, undocumented immigration and violence along the southern border of the United States if elected president. He has continually had to defend his view after receiving constant criticism from his fellow candidates.

At a recent GOP debate, Perry told his fellow Republican presidential contenders -- all of whom are against education for undocumented immigrants -- "I don't think you have a heart." He apologized for the statement this week, saying he was being "over-passionate" and he "chose a poor word" to defend his views.

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In the beginning of Rick Perry's political career, he was elected to the Texas House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1984. As a freshman, he joined other fiscal conservatives in the "pit bulls," named after where they sat in the lower pit of the House Appropriations Committee.

During the 1988 presidential primaries, he supported the candidacy of fellow Southern Democrat Al Gore and worked on his Texas campaign.

Perry ended up voting for George H.W. Bush that year and, in 1989, he switched parties to become a Republican.

Despite his party change, Perry has never lost an election, a record that goes back to elementary school.

Following his three terms in the Texas House. Perry was elected Texas Agriculture Commissioner in 1990 and was re-elected in 1994. His background as the son of a cotton farmer and an animal science major at Texas A&M University undoubtedly helped his campaign.

In 1998, Perry was elected as Lieutenant Governor of Texas. It was during this race that he had a falling out with GOP strategist Karl Rove which led to a reported rivalry with the George W. Bush camp.

When Bush won the presidency in 2000, Perry ascended to become governor in December 2000. He has been re-elected to the position three times since, making him the longest continually-serving governor in the nation.

Correction: An earlier version of this caption incorrectly stated that Perry was the chairman of Gore's Texas campaign.

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