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By Bill O'Reilly
With the Texas governor leading in the polls, his Republican competitors really let him have it at Monday night's debate:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Do you still believe that Social Security should be ended as a federal program, as you did six months ago when your book came out, and returned to the states, or do you want to retreat from that?
RICK PERRY, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think we ought to have a conversation.
ROMNEY: We are having that right now, Governor. This -- that's -- we are running for president.
PERRY: Yes, sir, if you'll let me finish I'll…
RICK SANTORUM, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What Governor Perry has done is he provided in-state tuition for -- for illegal immigrants. Maybe that was an attempt to attract the illegal vote -- I mean the Latino voters.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN DEBATE HOST: Gov. Perry, as you well know, you signed an executive order requiring little girls, 11 and 12-year-old girls to get a vaccine to deal with a sexually transmitted disease that could lead to cervical cancer. Was that a mistake?
PERRY: It was indeed. I -- I -- if I had it to do over again, I would have done it differently.
MICHELE BACHMANN, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To have innocent little 12-year-old girls be forced to have a government injection through an executive order is just flat-out wrong. That should never be done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
We won't know until later this week if Gov. Perry's poll numbers will be affected by the onslaught. So let's take a no-spin look at the charges against Mr. Perry.
On the issue of Social Security, he is essentially correct. The federal government has taken funds earmarked for that program and spent them on other things. They've been doing it for decades. The problem for Perry is the program is still salvageable, although adjustments will have to be made. So it's not exactly a Ponzi scheme, but it's close.
On the issue of mandating Texas schoolgirls to be vaccinated against the HPV virus, which can cause cervical cancer, Mr. Perry admits he made a mistake. His executive order oversteps his authority. The governor should have encouraged the vaccinations but not ordered them.
On the issue of illegal immigration, Mr. Perry has some problems. Because there are millions of Hispanic voters in Texas, the governor does not want to alienate them. Thus he opposed a border fence, which is absolutely necessary. I mean, the USA, including the border states, must stop the incredible flow of illegal aliens into this country, and the fence is effective. Texas also offers in-state tuition for illegal alien students. That costs the state about $40 million every year. That's unfair to the taxpayers and drains resources from the Texas education system, which ranks 33rd in the nation.
To be fair to Gov. Perry, he has done many good things as governor. The Texas economy is strong. People are moving to the Lone Star State because the tax rate is low. Texas is tough on violent criminals, and rejects many regulations that handcuff freedom.
In the end, the folks will decide whether Gov. Perry is the strongest candidate against Barack Obama. He stood tall Monday night but took an awful lot of fire.
And that's "The Memo."
Pinheads & Patriots
Last week we showed you a penguin urinating on Brian Kilmeade. It was grisly. Now, something even more grisly: Kilmeade playing one-on-one basketball with Shaquille O'Neal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN KILMEADE, CO-HOST, "FOX & FRIENDS": Was that out?
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL, FORMER NBA STAR: Yeah, it was out.
KILMEADE: Was that in?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
I want a piece of that. You've got to give Kilmeade credit. He's a patriot for even attempting one-on-one against Shaq.
— You can catch Bill O'Reilly's "Talking Points Memo" and "Pinheads & Patriots" weeknights at 8 and 11 p.m. ET on the Fox News Channel and any time on foxnews.com/oreilly. Send your comments to: email@example.com.