ABC’s Arlette Saenz, Matthew Jaffe and Michael Falcone report:
Rick Perry’s presidential campaign lashed out at a pro-Michele Bachmann Super PAC that is planning to run a television ad in South Carolina seeking to portray the Texas governor as unworthy of Tea Party support.
“Gov. Perry is a proven fiscal conservative, having cut taxes, signed six balanced budgets, and led Texas to become America’s top job-creating state,” Ray Sullivan, communications director for Perry’s presidential campaign, said in a statement on Thursday. “Congresswoman Bachmann’s front-group ad is patently and provably false. Unlike Washington, the Texas budget is balanced, does not run deficits and limits spending, even as Texas added jobs and population in big numbers.”
The super PAC, Keep Conservatives United, launched the spot on-line attacking Perry’s spending record as governor of Texas. So far, the 30-second spot hasn’t even hit airwaves yet, but starting on Sept. 7 it will run for five days on CNN, CNBC and Fox News in the Palmetto State.
“Rick Perry says he’s one tough hombre on spending,” the ad’s narrator says. “But what’s his record? Rick Perry doubled spending in a decade. And this year Rick Perry is spending more money than the state takes in, covering his deficit with record borrowing.”
“And he’s supposed to be the Tea Party guy?” the ad concludes, showing a images of Bachmann side-by-side with Perry. “There is an honest conservative and she’s not Rick Perry,”
Keep Conservatives United chose to air the ad in South Carolina given the state’s importance in the early primaries and wanted to give Bachmann a boost in the South.
“As the ad makes clear, Perry’s record does not match his hype. Bachmann is the honest conservative,” Bob Harris, who formed the PAC, said “Perry is a threat as long as the big dollar contributors gain favors from state government, keep putting money behind him.”
In their statement on Thursday, the Perry campaign refuted the points the ads makes about the governor’s economic record in Texas one by one, complete with footnotes to back up their arguments.
In the weeks since her victory at the Iowa straw poll – which came on the same day Perry entered the race – Bachmann has spent a lot of time campaigning in South Carolina, a state that will be especially important to her chances of winning the nomination due to her decision not to focus on New Hampshire. She has even started referring to herself as an “hombrette” – echoing the language used in the ad.
“I am one little fighter,” Bachmann said at a rally earlier this month in South Carolina. “We need one strong hombre or hombrette, and I’m the hombrette to go and stand for you in Washington, DC.”
As a Super PAC, Keep Conservatives United cannot officially coordinate with the Bachmann campaign, but it can raise and spend an unlimited amount of money to support her presidential bid with ads like this one. The group formed in July and has produced two other web videos playing up Bachmann’s record as compared to Perry’s. The back-and-forth between the Perry campaign and Keep Conservatives United highlights what is likely to be a reoccurring battle with the growing influence of Super PACs during the current campaign cycle.
Bachmann and Perry both spoke at a Lincoln Day Dinner in Waterloo, Iowa two weeks ago, but the two never directly encountered each other. Bachmann waited in her bus while Perry spoke to the Iowa Republicans before taking the stage for a speech of her own, one which Perry sat through despite his opponent not listening to his own speech.
But, the two political adversaries will be reunited once again on Labor Day. They are both slated to appear at the Palmetto Freedom Forum organized by Sen. Jim DeMint in Columbia, S.C.