Speaking in San Antonio today, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney took a thinly veiled jab at rival Rick Perry, assailing “career politicians.”Although he didn’t mention Perry by name, Romney tried to set up a contrast between his own private sector experience and the Texas Governor’s 27 years in public office.
“I am a conservative businessman. I spent most of my life outside of politics, dealing with real problems in the real economy,” Romney said at the annual Veterans of Foreign Wars convention. “Career politicians got us into this mess and they simply don’t know how to get us out.”
The comments give an indication about Romney’s strategy to take down his most competitive opponent. Several recent national polls show Perry pulling ahead of Romney by double digits after just a few weeks on the campaign trail.
The remarks were met with some applause, but it remains to be seen whether Romney’s play to portray himself as a political outsider will resonate with voters — particularly in Texas, where Perry is seen as the quintessential Washington outsider. Romney has basically been running for president since 2006.
The Perry-Romney rivalry actually goes back much further than this year’s Republican primary contest. The Boston Globe reports today that the feud dates back to a spat over Romney’s decision not to let the Boy Scouts volunteer at the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. Perry, a former Eagle Scout, has accused Romney of politicizing the games, suggesting Romney wanted to avoid the controversy over gay Boy Scout leaders. Romney has countered that most Boy Scouts are not 18, the mandatory minimum age set for Olympics volunteers.