Bush's Crew Is Gunning for Rick Perry

They might look like clones, but Bush and Perry don't like each other at all

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Is Rick Perry "another George W. Bush"? In reality, Bush was more of a fake Perry, the Texas version of a studio gangster, clearing brush in his cowboy boots despite his prep school background. It helps explain why Bush's allies and Perry's allies don't like each other very much: the Bush-loving Republican establishment sees Perry as "the low-rent country cousin," the Los Angeles Times reports. And it explains why Karl Rove (who once worked for Perry, before helping Bush  become president) went on Fox News to criticize Perry for calling the Federal Reserve treasonous -- and to wish for more candidates to enter the 2012 race.

How did the Bush-Perry fight begin? A brief history:

  • 2010: Perry runs for a third term as governor, and several Bush allies line up for his primary opponent, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, including Rove and George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush, plus former education secretary Margaret Spellings, staffer Karen Hughes, the New York Times reports, as well as Dick Cheney and former White House chief of staff James Baker, the Texas Tribune reports.
  • 1990: After encouragement from Rove, Perry switches parties and is elected agriculture commissioner. Rove was working for Bush at the time, and the two camps began to quarrel.
  • 1998: Bush campaigns for a second term as Texas governor, and, with his eye on the presidency, wants to win with a broad coalition of voters. Perry was running for lieutenant governor against the popular Democratic controller, John Sharp. Perry wanted to go negative, and the Bush people didn't, so they two sides "squabbled over polling, voter targeting and the hard-edged tone of Perry's campaign," the Los Angeles Times reports. Bush won by 1.4 million votes, Perry by just 70,000.
  • 2000: Perry takes over as governor after Bush resigns. "He did nothing to improve relations by hastening the Bush family's exit from their living quarters," the Times reports.
  • 2007: Perry gets caught on tape attacking Bush's record in Texas, telling Iowans at a fundraiser for Giuliani,  "George Bush was never a fiscal conservative -- never was... I mean, '95, '97, '99, George Bush was spending money."
  • April 2011: Perry attacks one of Bush's signature laws, No Child Left Behind, even though he once supported it. He told the National Review, "Yeah, that's a cool name, but it’s a monstrous intrusion into our affairs. Look, I like George... but that’s not good public policy."
  • This week: Bush allies take turns knocking Perry for his Fed comments. In addition to Rove, The New York TimesMichael D. Shear notes that Tony Fratto, the former deputy press secretary, called Perry's comments "inappropriate and unpresidential." Bush speechwriter Pete Wehner said it was "the kind of blustering, unthinking comment that Perry's critics expect of him."
And now, Perry might have a "Rove problem," The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake write. "Rove is a major player in Republican circles, particularly when it comes to the GOP's universe of major donors... He is also a prominent commentator -- he is a Fox News contributor and a Wall Street Journal columnist -- and is well-regarded by establishment Republicans." Which plays into the ominous warning two anonymous Bushies offered the New York Times: "If you're really trying to be the nominee and want to go the distance, you just don't want the former president of the United States and his people working against you." Likewise, another cautioned, "He's going to need all the help he can get from all the Republicans he can muster, so he ought to be prudent about that."
Howard Dean, who ran for president in 2004 attacking Bush, offered Perry a bit of advice Wednesday: "The Bush people don't fool around, as you know... You can say a lot of things about Bush's presidency and his failures as president, but one thing nobody should say bad about, his political team. They know what they're doing, and they are ruthless, and they are going to take Perry out."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.