The hostilities flaring between Mitt Romney and Gov. Rick Perry of Texas have been steadily rising inside both camps and may signal a new, more combative phase in the Republican presidential campaign.
The harsh exchanges between the men at a debate in Las Vegas this week made clear the differences — in style and substance, background and belief — facing voters as they get closer to selecting the party’s nominee. Mr. Romney and Mr. Perry have been on a collision course for months, since Mr. Perry began considering a run for the presidency.
But the animosities began long ago, set off by a series of political encounters that began when the two men were governors — Mr. Romney in Massachusetts — fighting over the services of a political consultant.
The story of their political relationship starts with two ambitious men whose life stories led them to the statehouse. But the similarities in their careers have always been outweighed by the differences, and by the moments of personal and professional conflict.
Mr. Romney’s decision, as chairman of the Republican Governors Association in 2006, to hire a consultant who was working for one of Mr. Perry’s political opponents left the Texas governor angry, aides said.
“I think that started the downhill decline in the relationship between the two of them,” a Texas Republican operative said on Wednesday, recalling the tension that existed at the time. “They have never been close.”
It was not long before Mr. Perry criticized Mr. Romney by name in his 2008 book about the history of the Boy Scouts. To Mr. Romney’s annoyance, Mr. Perry noted that the Scouts were blocked from participation in the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, which Mr. Romney led.
“In the absence of an explanation,” Mr. Perry wrote, “it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the decision was made as a reaction to the protests of gay activist groups.”
Mr. Romney beat Mr. Perry to the national stage, mounting his first bid for the presidency in 2008. Mr. Perry’s decision to endorse Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York mayor, over his fellow governor, added to the insult that Mr. Romney felt, according to advisers. He has never forgotten the snub, according to people close to Mr. Romney.
Before Mr. Perry’s entry into the current presidential race, the two men might have found common ground in their desire to defeat President Obama.
- US elections 2012: Republican race turns nasty as Mitt Romney and Rick Perry trade blows (telegraph.co.uk)
- Mitt Romney, Rick Perry Really Dislike One Another (thehollywoodgossip.com)
- Why Romney Slammed Perry So Hard (alternet.org)
- Romney speech touts ability, as video rips Perry’s (sfgate.com)
- Perry: no “shape-shifting nuance from me” (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- BLITZER’S BLOG: Perry, Romney and Reagan (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
- Rick Perry and Mitt Romney Duke It Out At Debate (timesunion.com)
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