Texas Gov. Rick Perry has blasted President Obama's health care reform law as borderline "socialism," and criticized presidential rival Mitt Romney for implementing a similar plan when he was governor of Massachusetts. But now, The Daily Caller has unearthed a letter Perry wrote to then-First Lady Hillary Clinton in 1993 — at the time, Perry was Texas' agriculture commissioner — praising Clinton's "commendable" (and ultimately failed) efforts to reform the health care system. Will this damage his bid for the Republican presidential nomination?
Yes. This will make conservatives nervous: Perry is new to the national political stage, says Igor Volsky at ThinkProgress, and right-wing activists are still learning about his record. They're not happy with Romney for mandating insurance coverage in Massachusetts, nor with Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman for "flirting with similar proposals." Now, this letter gives them "new reason to worry about the Texas governor's purity" on this make-or-break issue.
"Rick Perry: Hillary's efforts to reform health care are 'commendable,' 'worthy'"
Come on. The letter is a non-issue: "This will not hurt Perry at all," says Dan Amira at New York. For one thing, "unlike Huntsman, Perry doesn't have a reputation as someone with liberal sympathies that this can play into." Besides, he wrote this letter 18 years ago, and he didn't praise the substance of "HillaryCare," which at that point was unknown. "This hardly even registers as a blip on the radar screen next to the Spruce Goose of RomneyCare."
"Rick Perry said something nice to Hillary Clinton 18 years ago"
This might sting — but not too much: It sounds like Perry, as agricultural commissioner, was lobbying on behalf of his constituents, says Allahpundit at Hot Air, "rather than dashing off a fan letter about how super keen the new health-care plan would be." Regardless, he'll get dinged for this in GOP primary debates, "but it'll have to come from Bachmann rather than Romney," who's saddled with his own health care baggage.
"Perry on Obama: How 'smart' do you have to be to let the economy get this bad?"