Texas governor Rick Perry declared that the Obama administration was "hell-bent" on socialism during a speech to the Republican Women's Club in Midland, Texas yesterday, according to Texas local newspapers. He also called for more tea party protests against health care reform efforts.
Perry accused the administration of "punishing" Texas through what he calls the Alien Transfer and Exit Program. He complained to the crowd about what he said is the administration's system of dumping illegal immigrants captured in other areas of the country into rural Texas, where the state must deal with them. Perry went on to describe a recent conversation he had with officials from the small border town of Presidio.
"They said, 'do you all know what's fixin' to happen?' I said, 'well, no. What's going on?' They said, 'the government has just called us and said for us to get ready for an influx of illegal aliens who were captured illegally crossing the border from San Diego to Nogales, Arizona," Perry recalled. "Way on the western side of this country. It's called the Alien Transfer and Exit Program."
In fact, the Texas Tribune has reported that Presidio is merely the point at which captured illegal immigrants being bused into Mexico cross the border. According to the Tribune, a spokesperson for the Border Patrol sector where the town is located has stated that system does not place any strain on the community.
Perry went on to speak disparagingly about the proposed cap and trade bill, which he wryly suggested should be renamed the "Shut Down Midland, Texas Legislation." The bulk of his complaints with the administration, however, stemmed from the issue of health care.
"This is an administration that I see punishing this state. I say it's time for us to stand up. I say it's time to make tea parties twice as big as what they were," he said. Perry's next words drowned in a sea of applause. "This is an administration hell bent on taking America towards a socialist country. And we ought not be afraid to say that because that's what it is."
He cited the tea parties as the reason the Senate rejected the public option during the health care debate, and called for more tea parties to continue pushing the conservative agenda.
"I am not bashful to get up and say 'I believe in the tenth amendment,'" Perry declared. "I really don't care whether it's a Democrat or a Republican governor, but I hope they will stand up and say, 'Washington, we don't want you mandating how to run our states.' This plan that they are putting before us will devastate this country and bankrupt our state."
This attack on Obama comes not long after Perry's remarks implying that Texas should consider seceding from the Union. The speech raises Perry's national profile less than a year before he faces Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison in the Texas GOP primary. (Perry is seeking his third elected term - he first assumed the post when George W. Bush stepped down in 2000.)
Politico has pegged the race as one of the "Top 10 Most Interesting Showdowns in 2010," predicting that it will be "nasty, brutish and expensive." The most recent poll on the state of the race, conducted by the University of Texas/Texas Tribune, shows that Perry leads Hutchison 42 percent to 30 percent.