Gov. Rick Perry has been a bit of a conservative darling of late. Yep, the Republicans have rallied round the man after he was indicted for corruption charges a few weeks back. It was a touching moment of unity in a party that has been remarkably divided in recent years.
Well, that's all over or now. It turns out the guy with the most presidential hair in politics still - unsurprisingly, in a bit of stunning optimism - wants to be president. He's gunning for a 2016 White House run and he is duly putting together a team to turn those Commander-in-chief dreams into reality (with fewer "oops" moments this time, we assume.)
To do so he has hired three, shall we say, controversial figures. It doesn't seem to take much to anger ye olde Tea Party people these days, but Perry couldn't have done a better job if he'd tried. He hired former President Bill Clinton aide Mark Fabiani for his legal team. He also hired former McCain-Palin campaign consultant Steve Schmidt (who has sounded off his thoughts on Sarah Palin, and said thoughts aren't exactly positive.) And then, for the piece de resistance (or coup de grace depending on your viewpoint) he hired Henry Barbour.
Who is Henry Barbour? Well, he's the guy who ran the Mississippi political action committee that funded Sen. Thad Cochran's primary ads, the ones that seemed to be - good heavens - aimed at getting African Americans to the polls by arguing that Cochran's opponent, state Sen. Chris McDaniel, would utterly screw up "race relationships between blacks and whites and other ethnic groups." Most people had Cochran politically dead and buried, but he managed to secure the Republican nomination, most likely due to this ad campaign. Tea Partiers have been rather displeased with Barbour ever since. They even tried to have him formally censured by the Republican National Committee - who, go figure, didn't bite on that one.
Perry has actually been associated with Barbour since 2012, but the news that he's working for Perry post-Cochran really seemed to rattle some people on the far, far right. Why? Well, maybe because these are the folks who take any move toward bipartisanship or any hiring of someone who doesn't lock step with their views as tantamount to deserting all that the Tea Party holds dear.
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Now, they're left with a quandary: Can they support the Perry that is being "unfairly attacked" with the whole corruption charges thing when he has, horror of horrors, hired a trio that just possibly does not hold the exact same views as the Tea Party? Do they have to return their awesome Perry mugshot t-shirts? Can they possibly transplant Perry's glorious head of hair onto Sen. Ted Cruz to boost his 2016 chances while tanking Perry's in one fell swoop?
Conclusions so far have gone something like this:
"The only two options are that Rick Perry is a complete imbecile and he has no idea who these people are and what they've done and how the conservative base--who votes in primaries--feels about these guys, or he's doing it on purpose because that's the kind of message he wants to send," said Keli Carender, the national grassroots coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots, told Daily Beast.
Either way, the Tea Party ain't happy. We've got a call into Perry's office asking for comment on this whole Barbour-Schmidt-Fabiani thing. We'll update soon as we hear back.