Skeptical CBS Interrogates: Is Rick Perry 'Using' Border Crisis for 2016?

The journalists at the CBS Evening News on Wednesday investigated whether Rick Perry is "using" the immigration crisis to increase his profile for a 2016 White House bid. Talking to the mayor of Rio Grande City, Manuel Bojorquez said of the move to send Texas National Guard to the border: "A lot of people have criticized his decision by saying that it's pure politics, that he's looking to make a point on the national stage because he wants to run for president."

In a tease for the segment, anchor Scott Pelley insisted that Perry is "upping the political ante." The journalist wondered, "Is he using the crisis to raise campaign money?" [See video below. MP3 audio here.]

Bojorquez then noted that the number of unaccompanied minors has dropped in half since peaking in June. He complained: 

MANUEL BOJORQUEZ: The McAllen Texas Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to Governor Perry urging him to reconsider the deployment "In light of the damage that will result to our community and the economy of the entire Rio grande Valley." Monica Weisberg Stewart rents retail space in McAllen. What is the concern about the impression that the border has been militarized? 

Ms. Weisberg-Stewart responded, "It also tells our visitors to the south you're not welcome. It send a very strong message." 

The journalist did allow one dissenting voice. Ruben Villarreal, the Republican mayor of Rio Grande City, said of the Texas National Guard: "I need them here. I need those boots on the ground to take care of a community."

On August 4, CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King insisted that unless illegal immigrants are doing something "illegal," they should be left alone. 

CBS and the other two networks have ignored several examples of the chaos at the border. 

A transcript of the August 13 segment is below:  


6:43

SCOTT PELLEY: The Texas Governor ups the political ante in the border crisis. 

RICK PERRY: We flagged this issue in 2012 and have yet to even have a response. 

PELLEY: Is he using the crisis to raise campaign money? 

...

6:46:27

SCOTT PELLEY: Today, Texas Governor Rick Perry visited National Guard troops who will soon beef up patrols along the border with Mexico. Perry says Texas had to act because the federal government has failed to secure the border and he's taken this political fight to a whole new level. Here's Manuel Bojorquez. 

MANUEL BOJORQUEZ: These members of the Texas National Guard recently completed combat training. The next deployment for some will be on the border. 

PERRY: The price of inaction is too high for Texans to pay. 

BOJORQUEZ: Governor Rick Perry ordered 1,000 National Guard members to help other state agencies with border security. The Guard will monitor and report illegal crossings. They cannot make arrests. 

PERRY: If you want to secure the border, you can. 

BOJORQUEZ: This online ad belongs to Perry's political action committee and asks for donations. Border security has become a prominent part of his political message. [To Rio Grande Mayor Ruben Villarreal] A lot of people have criticized his decision by saying that it's pure politics, that he's looking to make a point on the national stage because he wants to run for president. 

MAYOR RUBEN VILLARREAL: It doesn't matter to me if the governor is sending them here to come spread confetti. It doesn't matter a bit. 

BOJORQUEZ: Ruben Villarreal is mayor of Rio Grande City, which is 150 yards from Mexico. 

VILLARREAL: I need them here. I need those boots on the ground to take care of a community. 

BOJORQUEZ: Perry has argued the surge of children that crossed into the U.S. diverted resources from stopping drug smugglers. But the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border has dropped by half since its peak in June. The McAllen Texas Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to Governor Perry urging him to reconsider the deployment "In light of the damage that will result to our community and the economy of the entire Rio grande Valley." Monica Weisberg-Stewart rents retail space in McAllen. What is the concern about the impression that the border has been militarized? 

MONICA WEISBERG STEWART: It also tells our visitors to the south you're not welcome. It send a very strong message. 

BOJORQUEZ: Governor Perry has not said how long the National Guard will be deployed. State legislators plan to ask Washington to pick up the bill, about $12 million a month. Manuel Bojorquez, CBS News, McAllen, Texas. 

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org