Ever since Rick Perry entered the Republican presidential race, critics and fellow candidates alike have had much to say about the Texas governor. But the one person keeping quiet is perhaps Perry’s largest competition of all, reports The Atlantic
Mitt Romney has spent the majority of his campaign avoiding squabbles with fellow GOP candidates. He prefers to focus his criticisms on President Barack Obama and lie low as the other candidates pick each other’s campaigns apart.
“Mitt Romney considers Rick Perry a friend and believes he will add a lot to the discussion during the primary,” Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said. “But he is going to stay his course and keep his focus on President Obama’s failed economic policies. This country needs a president who understands how the economy works and has private-sector experience. That is why Mitt Romney is running.”
Some GOP candidates have taken major swipes at Perry. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum compared Perry with liberal Rep. John Conyers for his outspoken criticism of Ben Bernanke. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman challenged Perry’s assertions that global warming and evolution were not real. Romney has yet to engage.
“In boxing, you don’t fight beneath your weight class,” said Brian Ballard, a member of Romney’s national leadership team. “Until Perry has been out there a couple of months and shows that he is a legitimate rival . . . I don’t think we will engage him much.”
Should Romney being taking shots at Perry, he risks painting the race as a head-to-head battle. This could hurt Romney, reports the Atlantic, by allowing social conservatives to channel their support toward Perry without being forced to split between Perry and Bachmann.
“Mitt Romney is an arranged marriage [for Republican voters], but they’d marry Rick Perry for love,” said Republican consultant Rick Wilson.
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