The Washington Times - October 28, 2011, 08:04AM

Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney’s camp kicked off another day with yet another attack against Rick Perry, whacking him this time for “promoting liberal policies that encourage illegal immigration.”

The former Massachusetts governor pointed to the three-term Texas governor’s support of in-state tuition for some children of illegal immigrants and opposition to a border fence — two issues that have caused Mr. Perry some headaches among the party’s grass-roots conservatives.

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“Over the past decade, the number of illegal immigrants in Texas is estimated to have grown by 60 percent. Governor Perry should explain to the people of New Hampshire why he thinks their opposition to his liberal immigration policies means they ‘don’t have a heart,’ ” said Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams, alluding to comments Mr. Perry made last month in a defense of his decision to sign the in-state tuition bill into law.

The exchanges have become commonplace on the campaign trail, with Mr. Romney looking to score a knockout blow against the one candidate in the field who has matched him in fundraising and Mr. Perry looking to re-establish himself as the conservative alternative to Mr. Romney after plummeting in the polls.

This week the two men painted each other as flip-floppers.

Mr. Perry labeled Mr. Romney a “finger-in-the-wind” politician, after he appeared to suggest he would not take a position on a controversial referendum in Ohio that would limit collective bargaining rights of public employee unions. Mr. Romney, who later clarified that he supported the ballot issue, returned the favor by suggesting the plan Mr. Perry recently rolled out to reshape Social Security doesn’t square with his previously stated stances on the issue.

The immigration issue became a flashpoint between the two men during the debate last week in Las Vegas, where Mr. Perry unearthed old allegations that surfaced during the 2008 campaign that Mr. Romney hired illegal immigrants to work at his home.

“The idea that you stand here before us and talk about that you’re strong on immigration is, on its face, the height of hypocrisy,” Mr. Perry said.

In response, Mr. Romney acknowledged that he hired a lawn company that had illegal immigrants working on the crew and “when that was pointed out to us, we let them go.”

Then he highlighted Mr. Perry’s position on in-state tuition illegal immigrants and pointed to a controversial report from the Center for Immigration Studies that suggested 40 percent of all the new jobs created in Texas went to illegal immigrants — a charge Mr. Perry called “a falsehood on its face.