The most reported news out of the Rick Perry event yesterday in NH appears to be his position on a border fence.
Speaking to hundreds of Granite State voters at a private reception, the Texas governor was asked whether he supported a fence along the Mexican border.
“No, I don’t support a fence on the border,” he said. “The fact is, it’s 1,200 miles from Brownsville to El Paso. Two things: How long you think it would take to build that? And then if you build a 30-foot wall from El Paso to Brownsville, the 35-foot ladder business gets real good.”
The answer produced an angry shout from at least one audience member. And it exposed an ongoing rift with some conservative voters over Perry’s immigration record.
I attended that event, stood about 15 feet from where he delivered those remarks and never heard an “angry shout”. Either the AP is making it up or it wasn’t much of a shout. Perhaps they can supply the audio.
I’m a fan of Perry’s so I was excited about meeting him. I arrived with a Sturbridge Tea Party tea shirt in hand and promptly awarded it to the Governor, who called me “Janie” (a nickname no one ever uses for me). That typifies the Perry I saw, and it is certainly a quality that will anger liberals who lately prefer presidential candidates who make it clear they are in a separate league.
Perry is quick to throw his arm around you for a photo-op while he listens intently to what you have to say. And he seems to genuinely enjoy it. His detail is constantly trying to get him to move forward while admitting they have no idea where he will aim next. Before he spoke to the crowd yesterday he traversed the crowd from end to end, shaking hands, signing pictures and posing for photos. He is quite a contrast to Mitt Romney who always seems friendly but stand-offish as if he doesn’t quite know what to do with the attention.
I liked Perry as much when I left as I did when I arrived. I invited him to Massachusetts and he promised to get there before this is over. Rick Perry in the land of John Kerry will be fun to see.
Update: I forgot to mention my favorite part of the Perry “experience”. Before Perry came to the podium, a man played The National Anthem on a trumpet. It was breathtaking. As the solo progressed people joined in and sang the words. By the end of the anthem the entire crowd was proudly and loudly singing. I honestly believe patriotism is on the rise in this country. It makes my heart soar.