Maverick Texas Rep. Ron Paul isn't waiting for Wednesday night's debate to challenge Texas Gov. Rick Perry's conservative bona fides. His campaign sent out an email Wednesday declaring: "Rick Perry Can't Handle the Truth."
The Paul and Perry campaigns have been feuding in recent days over which candidate is a more genuine Reagan conservative. Paul has pointed out that as recently as 1988, Perry was a regional campaign manager in Texas for Democrat Al Gore's presidential campaign. A new Paul TV ad refers to Perry as Gore's "Texas cheerleader," while touting Paul's early endorsement of Reagan's presidential candidacy.
"Rick Perry helped lead Al Gore's campaign to undo the Reagan Revolution," the ad declares.
In response, the Perry campaign unearthed a 1987 letter in which Paul cited Reagan's policies for his growing disenchantment with the Republican Party. Paul's letter blamed Reagan and Republicans for "skyrocketing deficits." Paul left the GOP to run as a Libertarian Party candidate, but later returned to the GOP fold.
In its email to supporters, the Paul campaign addressed Perry directly, saying: "We don't think the fact that you used to be a Democrat is the big problem here. The real problem is that, too often, you still act like one . . . "
It goes on to blast Perry for supporting Hillary Clinton's healthcare overhaul, for pushing for a federal bailout and stimulus funds, supporting welfare for undocumented workers, for raising taxes twice, and for a plan "to forcibly vaccinate" 12-year-old girls against sexually transmitted diseases.
Ray Sullivan, the communications director for Perry's campaign, fired back on MSNBC Wednesday, saying that even when Perry was a conservative West Texas Democrat, he voted for Reagan in 1980 and 1984.
"Ron Paul was not with Ronald Reagan," Sullivan said. "In 1987, he repudiated Reagan's agenda and vision, and left the Republican Party, citing Ronald Reagan."
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