“Tell me who you walk with and I’ll tell you who you are” is an aphorism that many movement conservatives have come to believe through the hard experience of watching establishment Republican candidates for president surround themselves with inside-the-Beltway mercenaries who despise conservatives, run content-free campaigns and lose the election.
This week conservatives got the message loud and clear that Texas Governor Rick Perry is not one of us. He joined the inside-the-Beltway political class when he hired Henry Barbour, the shadowy figure allegedly behind infamous race-baiting ads in the recent Mississippi GOP Senate runoff and Steve Schmidt, the brains behind John McCain’s disastrous 2008 presidential bid and the inside operative who trashed Governor Sarah Palin throughout the campaign – and who has made a point of attacking conservative Republicans at every opportunity since.
Here’s what Schmidt said about Mitt Romney’s failure to campaign on conservative principles:
We would have been much better off running against the real President Obama as opposed to the sinister pretend President Obama. And the total lack of credibility with some of this stuff, I think is just absolutely repellent to the middle of the electorate. And then when you look at the demographics, who is Rush Limbaugh talking to? He is talking to a demographic that's white, 65 plus, and rural. It's not what the country looks like anymore. So you have these talk radio hosts making millions and millions and millions of dollars a year driving a message of complete and total ludicrous nonsense into the electorate, a lot of it poisonous.
Steve Schmidt, a close confidant of Karl Rove's, served in the George W. Bush White House as Deputy Assistant to the President. And, in addition to running the losing campaign of John McCain, Schmidt managed the losing campaign of Kentucky Attorney General Will T. Scott, California state Senator Tim Leslie's unsuccessful race for lieutenant governor of California, and he was the communications director for California State Treasurer Matt Fong's unsuccessful campaign to unseat Barbara Boxer. In 1999 he was the communications director for establishment Republican Lamar Alexander's unsuccessful presidential run.
Henry Barbour, the lobbyist nephew of former Mississippi Governor, and RNC Chairman, Haley Barbour is helping Perry recruit staff for his upcoming presidential run. Barbour leads Capitol Resources lobbying efforts in numerous states around the country and claims as two of his areas of expertise “Appropriations” and “PAC Development.”
This no doubt explains why Barbour came to form “Mississippi Conservatives PAC “ the shadowy entity allegedly behind the recruitment of Democrats to vote in the Republican primary through race-baiting robo-calls, race-baiting radio ads, race-baiting fliers, blatant violations of Mississippi election law, improper financial transactions, and old-fashioned “walking around money,” all to benefit Thad Cochran, the likely Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee should Republicans recapture the Senate majority.
Barbour’s behavior was so outrageous that it prompted me and a coalition of conservative leaders to demand an investigation and censure of Barbour; among those who signed the letter were Jenny Beth Martin, Chairman, Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund; Colin Hanna, President, Let Freedom Ring; Tony Perkins, Chairman, FRC Action PAC; L. Brent Bozell, III, Chairman, For America; Matt Kibbe, President, FreedomWorks; Ken Blackwell, Former Ohio Secretary of State and Chairman of SOS4SOS PAC and Drew Ryun Former Director of Grassroots for the Republican National Committee.
Not only has Perry recruited an anti-conservative onto his budding presidential campaign, but he has brought on one of the Tea Party movement’s chief antagonists who was the subject of a recent censure discussion at the Republican National Committee and whose role in the recent Mississippi GOP Senate primary race-baiting scandal may yet prove to be a major embarrassment to Perry as legal challenges to that election move forward.
Hiring Barbour and Schmidt is a stupid choice that we would not expect Rick Perry, the tough-talking Governor of Texas to make given the host of solid conservative political talent with Texas ties.
When you hire a consultant you hire his reputation, strategy and tactics. We doubt that Governor Perry plans to win the Republican presidential nomination by race-baiting, recruiting Democrats to vote in Republican Primary Elections and trashing as “poisonous” conservatives such as Rush Limbaugh, but that is the signal he is sending conservatives by hiring Barbour and Schmidt.
As I said in my new book TAKEOVER, when Ronald Reagan was running for president, every time I saw him, and I saw him quite a bit, he was surrounded by people I knew from conservative politics: Senator Paul Laxalt, Jeff Bell, Lyn Nofziger, Marty Anderson, Dick Allen, Judge Clark, Ed Meese, etc. If you haven’t walked with conservatives for the past ten or fifteen years, and hire anti-conservatives on your campaign team, how can we conservatives trust you to have a conservative administration?
Some of your friends, Governor, are the enemies of conservatives. By hiring Barbour and Schmidt Governor Perry is telling conservatives he is part of the Republican establishment, and by alienating conservatives, Rick Perry may have fatally stumbled before his presidential campaign even got to the starting gate.