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Attendees asked to prove citizenship at Perry town hall

 

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- At Rick Perry's campaign stop at a defense contractor this morning, all attendees -- including the press -- were requested to prove their American citizenship, a move that spurred a minor controversy ahead of the town hall meeting.

NBC News was told by an employee checking in press at Granite State Manufacturing that "only American citizens are allowed in."

The Perry campaign quickly clarified that non-US citizens were, in fact, allowed to attend the campaign stop, but would have to be accompanied at all times by a company employee, per a federal regulation on government sub-contractors.

Granite State Manufacturing facilities manager Shawn O'Hagan told reporters the rule as stated was misinterpreted by the employee, a quality assurance assistant, checking in press. "That was a mistake," he said.

Nonetheless, according to O'Hagan, NAFTA security policy requires that sub-tier government manufacturers have to send a company employee to accompany non-US citizens at all times. All visitors to the building complex are asked the same question, he said.

"It is a government policy and we do work for government," said O'Hagan. Foreigners are "allowed in but not allowed out of the lobby without an escort 100% of the time."

Earlier this year, Granite State Manufacturing hosted rival GOP candidate Jon Huntsman in a similar type of campaign event. Journalists were asked not to film certain areas that contained proprietary content. A company representative said that members attending that event were also checked for their citizenship.

After the confusion was cleared up, Perry toured Granite State Manufacturing, played with a remote controlled robot and called for voters to help him push for smaller government.

Perry brought his government-cutting message from Iowa to New Hampshire on Wednesday. A Bloomberg News poll found that Perry's been on the slide in the Granite State; 3% of Granite State voters named him as their top choice in a nominee.

Admitting a move to reduce Congressional salaries and size will not be popular in Congress, Perry said, "That's where you come in to play. I think that we travel across this country and basically for lack of a better word, browbeat the members of Congress."