In case there was any doubt that there is bad blood brewing between Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, let that be put to rest. Because, brother, it’s on. It’s on like Donkey Kong.
Calling your Republican opponent just another version of Barack Obama stands pretty much as Exhibit A in that regard.
And that’s what Rick Perry, the GOP front runner, did last evening on Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News, derisively labeling Romney “Obama lite.”
The interview was in a sense Perry’s coming out party on Fox News, and he did not mince words when it came to the former Massachusetts governor
“I just think it’s important for the people of America and certainly in Republican primary, to see the clear differences that the candidates have and we need to nominate someone who will have a stark, clear difference between the Republican nominee and President Obama,” Perry said. “And I think I am that person who can clearly delineate the differences. We don’t need to nominate ‘Obama-lite,’ we don’t need to nominate someone who’s going to blur the lines between Obama and our nominee.”
“That’s a pretty rough term,” Hannity said of the Obama comparison. “I think that’s the worst thing you can call me.”
Perry chuckled heartily.
He also blasted the healthcare plan Romney helped enact in Massachusetts. Romney has defended the move, saying the program fit the needs of his state, but has pledged to work to repeal the national Democratic healthcare overhaul.
“It wasn’t the right thing for Massachusetts,” Perry said. “It was a job killer.”
For his part, when Romney and his camp haven’t been bashing Perry over the head for his views on Social Security, they have been trashing his jobs record in Texas, Perry’s top talking point.
Wednesday, after Perry released an ad calling Obama “President Zero” for his job creation record, Romney’s campaign hit him with a statement calling Perry “Governor Sub-Zero.” The campaign cited figures that show Texas lost jobs faster than the national average last month.
All of this Perry-bashing has been done under a graphic that calls Perry a “career politician” and shows headshots of the Texan dating back to 1984, when he was a member of the Texas legislature. (And a Democrat, by the way.)
Perry, of course, hammered Romney for his job-creation record in Massachusetts at the GOP debate in California earlier this month.
The governor also stuck to his Ponzi-scheming guns on Social Security during the Hannity interview.
“That the program as it is set up today is not going to be viable in the future for our young people. And those kids know what a Ponzi scheme is — it’s your paying into something and it’s going to be the ones that pay in first and there’s not a payout for them when their time comes. Kids know that. Twenty-five to 36 years olds know that that program is not going to be in place. So let’s have a grown up conversation,” Perry said.
But while he said that he is not going to “do away” with Social Security, he said “it’s broken and it’s got to be fixed.” He mentioned possibly raising the eligibility age, means-testing for beneficiaries, or allowing younger people to have private accounts. He also wondered aloud whether there might not be “a better way” than the current program. And he name-checked young GOP stars Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan in order to bolster his argument (and no doubt court savvy Fox News viewers).
“This oughta be about giving people options,” Perry said.
Expect much more of this back-and-forth at tonight’s debate in Orlando, which will be carried on Fox News and begins at 9 p.m. ET. If the last two days are any indication, it could be the liveliest contest yet. As in Ali-Frazier lively.
Perry told Hannity that he’s ready for the attacks on the trail, whether they come from Romney or from Democrats, citing his three campaigns for Texas governor.
“We’ve caught a lot of javelins,” he said.