Less than two months into Rick Perry’s presidential candidacy, a record on illegal immigration that served him well politically as a border-state governor is proving a tough sell with voters looking toward Iowa’s Republican caucuses this winter.

It came up unbidden in the crowd line of neighbors waiting recently for the Texas governor to drop by Uncle Nancy’s Coffeehouse in Newton, the former corporate home of the washing-machine giant Maytag.

“I’m not sure I like Perry’s approach to immigration,” said Doug Ringger, a retired Maytag marketing man. “That concerns me a little bit — or a lot. I haven’t heard him say we need to seal the borders.”