Texas is a big and powerful state that is full of big and powerful people – especially when it comes to politics. Since his formal announcement to enter the GOP presidential primary, Gov. Rick Perry is having to publicly deal with some of the more powerful politicos from his home state who could have a significant impact on his desire to win the Republican presidential nomination. Most notably, Karl Rove.
It is true that Karl Rove played an integral role in convincing Perry to switch from the Democrat to the Republican Party in the late 1980s, not long after Perry chaired then Sen. Al Gore’s Texas efforts in his unsuccessful attempt for the Democratic nomination for president. It’s also true that Rove talked Perry into running as a Republican against Jim Hightower for Agriculture Commissioner in 1990.
And it is also true that Rove helped Perry win the lieutenant governor’s race in 1998. Well, sort of, but not really.
Rove ran a political consulting firm whose roster at one point included Perry. Somewhere along the way Perry and Rove parted company and Perry then picked up political strategist Dave Carney to manage his campaigns.
In 1998, Rove’s star client, then Texas Gov. George Bush, was coasting into a second term when Perry and his team wanted to wage a negative campaign against Perry’s Democratic opponent, John Sharp. Rove talked Perry and Carney out of it. The most logical reason being that Rove wanted to keep the peace in Texas as best he could knowing that Bush would be running for president in the very near future.
Perry went on to win, but only by a narrow margin. Is that the only reason for the rub between Rove and Perry? Well, not quite.
There is a lot of innuendos and opinions floating around about the tension between the Bush camp and the Perry camp. Like a storm cloud hovering over the church picnic, it just won’t go away.
After Bush ascended to the presidency in 2001, Perry was instantly promoted to the governor’s suite.
In 2010, the Bush camp tried unsuccessfully to unseat Perry by backing Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in the GOP governor primary. Rove filled the role he is best known for – that of hatchet man. Rove openly supported and advised Hutchison.
The race turned out to be a mainstream GOP vs. Tea Party fight. Rove represented the Republican country clubbers and Sarah Palin flew in to throw her support behind Perry.
It wasn’t even a fair fight. Perry and Carney handily defeated Hutchison and Rove, and wounds were reopened that had not properly healed from prior battles.
“The Bushes are out of touch with grassroots, Texas politics,” said a Texas GOP politico who is close to Perry and ask not to be identified.
What probably frustrates Rove and the Bush camp in general, is that the mainstream element of the Republican Party can’t control the Tea Party or those who lead it.
Many political pundits in Texas said Rove was pushing for Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels to enter the GOP primary, but after that failed to materialize, Rove and the Bush camp were left without a horse in the race and Perry sure wasn’t going to let them up a saddle on him.
In the weeks before Perry officially announced his candidacy, Perry said former President George W. Bush was “offering him advice and counsel.” That’s a far cry from “encouragement and support.”
On Monday, just two days after Perry officially announced his candidacy, he made a reference to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, saying he might be acting in a “treasonous” manner by printing more money.
That was all Rove needed to hear. In an interview with Fox News, Rove responded by saying, “You don’t accuse the chairman of the Federal Reserve of being a traitor to his country. And, suggesting that we treat him pretty ugly in Texas – you know that is not, again, a presidential statement.”
It’s not hard to figure out Rove would not take a bullet for Rick Perry.