That rhetorical sleight of hand—raising an alarm about Perry’s potential attraction to voters while simultaneously smack-talking him–reminded me of a conversation I had in mid-2001 with a Clinton staffer.
At the time, the ex-president was newly settled in Harlem and putting together his globe-trotting, post-White House agenda. His successor, George W. Bush, was wallowing at the start of his first term with mediocre poll numbers. There was open talk among Democrats about Bush looking like a beatable, one-term chief executive.
But the staffer, an acquaintance, said this was the advice he’d heard Clinton giving to various Dems about President Bush: “Do not underestimate the guy. He’s a canny pol. We need to beat him like a drum.”