Bush Team Warns Perry About Criticism

Wednesday, 06 Jul 2011 08:22 AM

By Newsmax Wires

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Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s political critiques of one of his predecessors, former Lone Star State Gov. and President George W. Bush, are coming back to haunt him as he contemplates seeking the Republican nomination for president himself. Members of Bush’s old team are warning him to cool the anti-Bush rhetoric or they will give him the cold shoulder if he runs, according to The New York Times.

Rick Perry, George Bush, President, GOP
Texas Gov. Rick Perry is "risking a guerrilla campaign against him by the former president’s inner circle," The New York Times reports. (Getty Images Photo)
Indeed, a close Bush associate has a message for Perry, conveyed anonymously to the Times to avoid a confrontation with Perry: “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.”

Propelling the warning is Perry’s string of criticisms, questioning of some of Bush’s policies, challenging his credentials as a fiscal conservative, accusing him of going on “a big-government binge,” and even downplaying some of Bush’s accomplishments in Texas compared with his own, the Times reports.

Perry’s statements “exposed a long-simmering rivalry that had been little known outside the political fraternity here but underscores the rightward drift of the Republican Party since Mr. Bush was president. More acutely, Mr. Perry’s criticism holds potential peril and benefit for him should he decide to mount a presidential campaign, allowing him to establish an identity distinct from Mr. Bush but risking a guerrilla campaign against him by the former president’s inner circle,” the Times observes.

Perry, whose aides say he will make a decision on whether to run within weeks, has been trying to cultivate potential fundraisers in forays throughout the country.

Perry’s criticisms of government spending, immigration, and education, have culled favor among conservatives, especially among tea party voters who blame the former president for spending and government growth, the Times reports.

But they have riled the Bush team. Another Bush associate, also speaking anonymously, told the Times: “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.”

The festering rivalry between Perry and Bush generated whispers in the state capital of being “an 8-foot alligator in the sewer,” Perry’s chief political strategist, David Carney, told the Times. Although Carney notes that the two are friends who are similar in more ways than they are different, he adds, “They are in the same church, different pews.”

Neither Bush nor Perry would consent to an interview for the story in the Times, which acknowledged that the rivalry simmers more between their aides than between them personally.

Meanwhile, Perry spokesman Mark Miner told The Hill that Perry will decide within the next several weeks whether he will seek the GOP nomination for president.

"There is no specific timeline," The Hill quotes Miner as saying.

Recent polling suggests he could be a strong candidate, The Hill notes, citing a McClatchy-Marist poll last week that ranked Perry as a top choice of tea party voters.


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