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Family Feud

Rick Perry versus the Bush machine.

Sep 19, 2011, Vol. 17, No. 01 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
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For starters, the feud may actually help Perry. Democrats will have a hard time portraying Rick Perry as the second coming of Dubya if he’s being regularly jabbed by the man affectionately described as “Bush’s Brain.” (And don’t discount the possibility that Rove the evil genius knows he’s doing Perry a favor by helping draw a sharp contrast between him and the former president early and often.)

Still, like most internecine political disputes, this one may come down to a single concern: money. “There’s probably 100 to 150 extraordinarily rich and extraordinarily conservative Texans,” Ratcliffe says. Access to that many wealthy donors is a unique advantage for a presidential candidate from Texas. “[Housing magnate] Bob Perry [no relation] typically drops anywhere from $4-6 million just in a Texas election,” Ratcliffe says. “It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Bob Perry dropped $10 million into a Rick Perry super-PAC.”

Of course, Bob Perry also gave $7 million to Rove’s super-PAC, American Crossroads, just last year. If Rove really had it out for Perry, he could possibly prevent Perry from securing the “Bush money” in Texas and elsewhere.

But so far that doesn’t appear to be happening, and Rove shrugged off the suggestion it would on The O’Reilly Factor. “He’s got to have his people call the Bush people,” said Rove. “Perry’s just now into the race, and he needs to pick up the phone and start dialing those people—and he is.”

Ultimately, Smith thinks that any disputes with Rove won’t affect a Perry candidacy. “The enthusiasm for Governor Perry in Texas will be sufficient that he’ll not only win Texas, but he’ll win it by a great margin, and he’ll have no shortage of money raised,” Smith says.

Ratcliffe agrees. “I suspect that if the smoke clears and Perry’s the Republican nominee, Rove will fall right in line helping him out.”

Until then, it may seem improbable to have Perry and Rove on the same political page. But if Perry does become the nominee, there’s a whole new chapter in the book of Texas political lore just waiting to be written.

Mark Hemingway is online editor at The Weekly Standard.

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