Presidential candidate and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann hit Texas Gov. Rick Perry hard for supporting amnesty and crony capitalist policies in Monday night’s Tea Party debate. Along with that attack, a pro-Bachmann Super PAC (Political Action Committee), called Keep Conservatives United, has unveiled a commercial and list of facts on its website that go after Perry’s policies.
The Keep Conservatives United commercial starts off by simply stating, “Illegal Immigration. Fair and balanced.” It then goes on to show how Perry’s illegal immigration policies are both unfair and unbalanced.
The commercial clearly puts Bachmann on the side of Arizona and its governor, Jan Brewer, who passed strict immigration laws that were dramatically struck down in court, against the more open policies that Perry signed off on in Texas. It also demonstrates how Perry’s policies are becoming more in line with California than other, more conservative states. Perry passed the Texas version of the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act, which allowed illegal immigrants to apply for instate tuition.
Also highlighted is the crony capitalism charge that has been hurled at Perry. The commercial states that Perry didn’t back the E-Verify laws that prevent employers from hiring illegals. By doing so, it insinuates that he is more loyal to “financial backers” and “illegals” than the people of his state.
The Keep Conservatives United website states, “Governor Perry refuses to protect jobs for Americans. His financial backers successfully lobbied to kill immigration enforcement in Texas.”
The video ends with the clear message, “To stop illegal immigration, support Michele Bachmann.”
The target for these ads has been South Carolina, a state that Bachmann will need to win in order to take the nomination. South Carolina is a state that Perry surged to first place in immediately after he entered the race. The latest PPP poll has Perry comfortably in first place, beating Bachmann and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, in a three-way race.
Clearly, Bachmann sees Perry as the main candidate preventing her campaign from gaining any traction, and this is partially because Perry has siphoned off many of her core supporters. Showing that Perry is an ally of Big Government and amnesty programs, while being in the pocket of big business, will resonate mostly with Tea Partiers and conservative activists that loathe such attributes.
During the Tea Party debate the attack on forced HPV vaccinations were harmful to Perry, but his connection to the injection provider, Merck, was perhaps an even more potent attack. The crony capitalism charge worries both fiscal and social conservatives. While he claimed to have only received $5,000 from Merck during the debate, the total financial benefits that he received from them has been much higher. This includes a $500,000 donation to the Republican Governors Association, which Perry has been the chairman of twice.
Linking both the fiscal and social concerns in her attack on forced vaccinations was a potent message, and pro-Bachmann PAC’s use of that kind of message may resonate in terms of immigration policy too.
A problem for Bachmann and other conservatives has been how to create “fair and balanced” immigration laws without alienating a rising Hispanic population in the United States. Perry’s policies may make him more popular with the Hispanic population that has been abandoning President Obama. However, conservatives will be wary, especially after former President George Bush disappointed his base by being soft on border issues.
The Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis recently wrote about Perry, “Exit polls demonstrate that he won 38 percent of the Hispanic vote in Texas (which is considered to be very good for a Republican).”
“Perry is coming under incredible pressure from his opponents (and conservative opinion leaders) to change his position (or at least, rhetoric) on immigration,” wrote Lewis.
Clearly, Bachmann and her supporters think she can be successful playing on that wariness from the base of the Republican Party. The ad itself is effective because it doesn’t need frills and fancy videos. It just gives a series of simple, but effective statements. It can be played on television, but perhaps more importantly, on the talk radio shows that reach a deeply conservative audience.
You can watch the Keep Conservatives United commercial here: