Rove Slaps Rick Perry: Distancing Yourself From Bush ‘Is Not Smart Politics Strategically Or Tactically’

Artist Mario Piperni's rendering of Bush and Perry photos.

In his early stages of his presidential campaign, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is already fighting off comparisons to another self-assured, former Texas governor who swaggered into the White House. “Is Rick Perry too George W. Bush-y?” a headline on the Washington Post asks. Joshua Green on The Atlantic similarly wondered, “Is America Ready for ‘George W. Bush on Steroids?‘”

Attempting to subtly distance himself from the unpopular Bush, Perry said yesterday, “Our records are quite different. … I went to Texas A&M. He went to Yale.” Even this very mild distancing of Bush was too much for former Bush “architect” Karl Rove.

On Fox News this morning, Rove complained that Perry is trying to contrast himself with Bush “in a way that’s dismissive of the former president,” adding “now, why one would do that, I don’t know.” (Bush left office with an approval rating of 22 percent.)

Rove then argued that Perry and Bush are actually quite close:

[In 1998, Bush] moved heaven and earth to get Rick Perry elected as his running mate. … I know from the perspective of the former president that he has a cordial, personal strong friendship of nearly two decades with the governor. I think that’s true of the governor too. But why he falls into this pattern of sounding like he’s being dismissive of the former president is not smart politics strategically or tactically.

Host Martha MacCallum observed, “It sounds like you feel like he’s been ungrateful to the Bushes.” Watch it:

During the interview, Rove also criticized Rick Perry for his “misstatement” on Ben Bernanke being potentially guilty of treason.