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Does Rick Perry like his crow barbecued?

Texas Gov. Rick Perry 

Where have you gone, Rick Perry?

It seems like only yesterday that the Texas governor answered the call and entered the GOP presidential race.

Now it appears that call was a wrong number.

Perry, who shot to front-runner status by throwing red meat to the right -– Social Security is a "Ponzi scheme," government is the enemy -– now finds the wolves at his door over that reddest of red-meat issues, immigration.

As The Times' Kim Geiger reported Wednesday:

At Thursday's Republican presidential debate in Orlando, Fla., the Texas governor defended his decision to sign into law a policy that allows the children of illegal immigrants to pay in-state college tuition by suggesting that opponents of the policy "don't have a heart."

How bad a misstep was that?  So bad that Mitt Romney -- the equivalent of Karl Marx to many in the GOP, and someone Perry himself has derided as "Obama-lite" -- seized on it to out-right the right-winger.

Romney told an audience of conservatives in Florida, "One of the things that I still can't get over is the idea that a state would decide to give a $100,000 discount to illegals to go to school in their state."

 "I think if you're opposed to illegal immigration, it doesn't mean that you don't have a heart. It means you have a heart and a brain."

So, having lost to pizza guy Herman Cain in a straw poll in Florida last weekend -- not to mention almost being left behind on "Pork Chop Hill" over a 19-year-old quote denigrating North Carolinians' BBQ skills -– Perry obviously decided enough was enough.

He apologized -– sort of:

"I probably chose a poor word to explain that," Perry said Wednesday in an interview with Newsmax. "For people who don't want their state to be giving tuition to illegal aliens, illegal immigrants in this country, that's their call. And I respect that."  

"I was, you know, I was probably a bit over-passionate about using that word," Perry said in the Newsmax interview. "And it was inappropriate."

Now, I'm not sure why the word "heart" was inappropriate.  Not to nitpick, but I think it was putting the words "don’t have a" with the word "heart" that was the sticking point.

Regardless, Perry's mea culpa helps him not one whit with voters. 

Republicans now don't trust him on immigration.

And Democrats and some independents who actually approved of his statement and might have voted for him in a general election -– well, now they have another reason not to like him.

They say, "It's not over until the fat lady sings."

But someone is humming, and it isn't "The Yellow Rose of Texas."


Rick Perry's BBQ "insult": Really, North Carolina?

McManus: The GOP's hard-right tilt

Chris Christie: Does he have the look of a president?

-- Paul Whitefield

Photo: Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Credit: Michael Nagle / Getty Images


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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

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