Our political Quote of the Day is not unexpected. Jeb Bush has basically told Texas Gov. Rick Perry to knock it off on re-raising the birther “issue”:
“Republican candidates should categorically reject the notion that President Obama was not born in the United States. It is a complete distraction from the failed economic policies of the President.”
Bush is correct. The Republican Party’s best bet is to run a THOUGHTFUL, SERIOUS campaign offering specific ideas that differ from Obama’s approach, and let the best candidate and party win.
I suspect the damage to Perry is done: he will have to backtrack bigtime to remove the damage done to his image at this point. He is coming across as someone not serious, thoughtful or level headed enough to be President. And he is increasingly looking like damaged goods and an inferior political product when compared to Herman Cain, despite Cain’s lack of government experience. Cain (his flaws and gaffes and all) is coming across as a kind of descendent of the sunny disposition incarnation of Ronald Reagan. Perry is coming across as a fringe candidate or a wacko third party candidate. And when he suggests it’s all “fun” and a kind of joke he comes across as someone who takes running for President in these serious times as a joke. Why doesn’t he just call Saturday Night Live?
Prediction: Perry will avoid birther questions or try to backtrack and put it all behind him and quadruple his attacks on Romney, since Cain is filling the vacuum Perry’s debate and verbal bungles have created — as more and more voters conclude that Perry has a vacuum between his ears.
UPDATE: It turns out that Bush wasn’t the only GOP heavyweight who has decided not to run this year to offer this advice:
Among the more established and seasoned field of Republican operatives, there is a bit of concern that sideshow issues and partisan flamboyance could muddy a relatively generous 2012 electoral landscape. It’s why Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s decision to resuscitate skepticism over President Obama’s birth certificate seems so out of place. At a time when the Texas Republican is trying to pitch his economic proposals, such as a flat tax, they believe he’s trampling on his own message and hurting the party’s image as well.
Sure enough, on Tuesday morning, one of the senior statesmen within the GOP, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, warned Perry and others to cut out the birther talk.
“Look, if this election is about Barack Obama’s policies and the results of those policies, Barack Obama is going to lose,” Barbour said after an appearance with the American Action Forum at the National Press Club. “Any other issue that gets injected to the campaign is not good for the Republicans. Republicans should want this election to be what American presidential elections have always been: a referendum on the incumbent’s record. Barack Obama cannot win a second term running on his record. Zero chance. So anybody who talks about anything else is off-subject.”
Barbour claimed he had not seen or heard Perry’s comments. When informed that the Republican presidential candidate was echoing Donald Trump’s questions about Obama’s birthplace and his eligibility for the presidency, Barbour continued to plead ignorance.
“He says Trump says it is a fraud,” said Barbour. “Well, I don’t know what Trump said.”
Barbour I am sure knew what was going on — and what he was saying and why.
And, again, I think the damage to Perry’s image as not just someone Not Ready for (National) Prime Time but not DESERVING of it will stick in a general election.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.