After failing to engage former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in various GOP debates, Texas Gov. Rick Perry took off the gloves Tuesday night, calling Romney a hypocrite for hiring a lawn maintenance company that employed undocumented workers.
Romney has previously badgered Perry for supporting in-state tuition rates for children of undocumented immigrants in Texas, and he has parlayed that criticism into talk about cracking down on employees who hire undocumented immigrants while on the stump.
By the time Tuesday night's CNN debate rolled around, Perry was ready to go.
"You stood here in front of the American people and did not tell the truth that you had illegals working on your property," he said. "The newspaper came to you, brought it to your attention. And you still, a year later, had those individuals working for you."
Throughout the exchange, Perry repeatedly got in Romney's face and interrupted his responses. Romney, in turn, put his hand on Perry's shoulder and essentially called his behavior unpresidential.
"I suggest if you want to become president of the United States you let both people speak," he bemoaned.
Given a bit of air, Romney explained that he had simply hired a company to mow his lawn, without knowing that it employed undocumented workers. He said that when he found out, he fired the company.
"'I'm running for office, for Pete's sake,'" he recalled saying. "'We can't have illegals working for us.' Turns out that once again, they hired someone who had falsified their documents and therefore we fired them."
"Let me tell you, it is hard in this country as an individual homeowner to knew if people who are contractors working at your home if they hired people that are illegal," he continued. "If I'm president, we'll put in an e-verify system, which you oppose, and crack down on people who come here illegally.