Perry in crucial period ahead of Oct. 11 debate; goes to NH

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on September 30, 2011 at 8:00 PM

DALLAS - Governor Rick Perry is off to New Hampshire this weekend.

It's the beginning of a critical period leading up to the next debate on Oct. 11.

Friday was the deadline for collecting campaign donations. Perry hopes to report a good number.

Bloomberg reported he'll gather about $10 million, and he'll be trying to leave behind the illegal immigration tuition issue that rivals have been using against him.

Perry started his New Hampshire weekend swing with a town hall meeting late Friday in Derry, N.H.

The governor hopes the state's GOP voters, who pay more attention to fiscal issues and less social ones, will be receptive to his job growth message.

But if not, he's got a revised response to his support of in state tuition for illegal immigrants.

"The reason that states have to deal with this, is because of the failure of the federal government," Perry said.

At the last debate, Perry blamed critics for not having a "heart."

Perry's signing of that 2001 law keeps dogging him, as it angers some conservatives.

Protesters came out when he made a fundraising stop Thursday in North Carolina. For Mitt Romney, it's the gift that keeps on giving, and gets him to the right of Perry on an issue.

Romney released a video showing prominent Democrats, such as President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who agree with Perry. It also showed former Mexican President Vincente Fox thanking Perry in 2003.

But an impressive fundraising period with millions raised may quiet some of criticism, according to Wayne Slater, senior political writer with the Dallas Morning News.

"The most significant message that a good first-quarter money figure says is to his future donors, 'I'm for real,'" Slater said. "So it's crucial that he make a big, big statement and that he show himself to be a good fundraiser."

Perry has until mid October to report the dollars. He makes four more campaign stops in New Hampshire on Saturday.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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