The clash between Republican presidential hopefuls Rick Perry and Mitt Romney that erupted during Tuesday night’s debate in Las Vegas is rooted in a long-simmering tension between the two.
And that hostility is evident in virulent new attacks the candidates are launching against each other.
During the mid-2000s, when Perry and Romney were rival governors, they “did not have a productive working relationship” and “each harbored a disdain for the other that was seemingly driven by cultural stereotypes and their perceptions of each other,” The Washington Post observed on Wednesday.
|Rick Perry and Mitt Romney
Jason Cabel Roe, a Republican strategist who has worked with both Perry and Romney and now supports Perry, told the Post: “There are significant cultural differences between them that only make their contempt for each other more severe.
“Perry comes from a rural, working-class background — up from the bootstraps, work hard to survive and make it. Romney was a guy who was born to pretty good economic circumstances and only made his personal economic circumstances better over the course of his professional career.”
Animosity between Romney and Perry was fueled when both were governors and Romney, as chairman of the Republican Governors Association in 2006, hired a consultant who was working for one of Perry’s political opponents — a move that “left the Texas governor angry,” The New York Times reported.
Perry then criticized Romney by name in a 2008 book he co-authored about the Boy Scouts, noting that the Scouts were blocked from participation in the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, for which Romney served as lead organizer.
“In the absence of an explanation,” Perry wrote,” it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the decision was made as a reaction to the protests of gay activist groups.”
Tension between the two was heightened even further when Romney launched his first bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 and Perry endorsed former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani over his fellow governor. Advisers said Romney was insulted by the move.
That tension was clear during Tuesday’s debate when Perry charged that Romney’s criticism of Texas immigration policies was “the height of hypocrisy.”
Perry stated that Romney once employed undocumented workers to mow his lawn. Romney replied that he stopped employing them when he discovered they were illegals.
For nearly a minute, the two talked over each other. As Perry pointed at Romney, Romney put his hand on Perry’s shoulder and complained that Perry was not giving him an opportunity to speak.
Now Romney has launched a new website focusing his attacks exclusively on Perry even though Herman Cain has been leading in many recent polls. He slams Perry as a “career politician,” cites his “bad jobs record,” and asserts that he “won’t face the facts.”
The site also charges that “nearly half of new jobs in Texas over the last 4 years went to illegal immigrants,” and declares: “Rick Perry has spent his entire career in political office, and has no experience in the real-world economy. America is facing a jobs crisis with unemployment above 9 percent and millions of Americans out of work.
“Career politicians got us into this mess, and they won’t help us get out of it.”
Perry has fired back with a new ad charging Romney with “misleading people.”
The ad shows a title card flashing the definition of “mislead” and proceeds with a one-minute rapid-fire series of clips showing Romney contradicting himself, touting the healthcare reform plan he engineered in Massachusetts, and saying he is “glad to hear” that President Obama is trying to copy that plan for all Americans.
The ad calls Romney a “failed career candidate” and states: “You can’t lead a nation by misleading people.”
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