Recent Hires Land Rick Perry In Hot Water With Conservatives

Image: Recent Hires Land Rick Perry In Hot Water With Conservatives (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Thursday, 04 Sep 2014 03:54 PM

By Jennifer G. Hickey

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Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who received overwhelming support from fellow Republicans and conservatives after he was indicted in August on abuse of power charges in August, now finds himself in the crosshairs of irate conservatives for several controversial hires.

While Perry has earned praise for his decision to send Texas National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to stem the surge of illegal immigrants from Central America, it is his decision to hire GOP lobbyist Henry Barbour; Steve Schmidt, a MSNBC contributor and former adviser to John McCain; and Mark Fabiani, a former adviser to Bill Clinton.

"The only two options are that Rick Perry is a complete imbecile and he has no idea who these people are and what they’ve done and how the conservative base—who votes in primaries—feels about these guys, or he’s doing it on purpose because that’s the kind of message he wants to send," Keli Carender, the national grassroots coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots, told The Daily Beast. 

She sent a clear warning to Perry that the hires "will be an issue. We will make it an issue."

Currently circulating on conservative websites and blogs is an open letter criticizing Perry for "hiring and listening to Washington insiders like Henry Barbour and Steve Schmidt" who "will undermine your continued leadership on issues that are important to conservatives."

The letter concludes by asserting "the only way to reestablish your credibility with conservatives is to send Henry Barbour and Steve Schmidt packing."

Henry Barbour, who is the nephew of former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, earned notoriety for the role he and his political action committee, Mississippi Conservatives, played in the Republican Senate primary in the Magnolia State between incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran and state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who was favored by the tea party.

In addition to providing counsel to Cochran, it has been alleged that Barbour was behind criticisms of McDaniel and helped to energize African-American Democrats to cross party lines to help defeat him.

"Henry Barbour was the field general in an unprecedented campaign to smear a fellow Republican, so desperate was his family to cling to power," Jenny Beth Martin, the chair of TPPCF, said in a recent statement provided exclusively to Breitbart News. 

Conservative columnist Steve Deace opened a recent Washington Times column with a question that sums up Perry's predicament.

"Hey, did you hear about the Republican governor running for president in 2016 who just hired two of the GOP consultants conservatives loathe the most?" he asked. 

"Republicans should not hire Henry Barbour unless and until he apologizes for the tactics he helped fund in Mississippi," conservative writer Quin Hillyer told The Daily Beast.

"What he helped finance was so far beyond the pale that he should be blackballed by conservatives, and if Perry wants to be considered a conservative, he should no longer employ Henry Barbour." 

Schmidt's decision to openly criticize John McCain's selection of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be John McCain's running mate in 2012 is one of the reasons he is not a favorite among Tea Party supporters and conservative commentators.

Picking Democrat Fabiani, who served on Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign and in the Clinton White House, is the least controversial of the additions to the Perry team.

"Governor Perry knows his legacy and ambitions are both on trial," Tyler Norris, a Texas
Republican consultant, told The Washington Examiner. "He is right to hire the best to push back against what many believe are politically motivated charges."

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