After The Daily Caller broke the story yesterday of a 1993 letter from then-Texas Agriculture Commissioner Rick Perry commending then-first lady Hillary Clinton for her efforts to reform health care, some Republicans are questioning the Texas governor’s conservative credentials.
The letter, along with his support for Al Gore in 1988, have fueled Perry’s detractors who now suggest the Texan is all style and little substance. MSNBC host Joe Scarborough is one of those detractors.
On his Wednesday “Morning Joe” program, Scarborough launched into a near 15-minute rant, complete with faux southern accent, ripping Perry for having a Democratic past before he became a Republican.
“Rick Perry, by the way — you know I called him a ‘dime store conservative’ several weeks ago,” Scarborough said. “We have these in the South. People that were Democrats, the Democrats’ Democrats, while Democrats were in charge of the South. And then when Republicans became in charge, we saw this happen. They all went from being liberal to conservative.
“Here is a guy that ran Al Gore’s campaign in 1988. Now I was a registered Democrat like most people in the South, but I was always conservative. This guy runs Al Gore’s campaign and then he writes a letter to Hillary Clinton in 1993 — a love letter: ‘Hi Hillary, I’m behind you.’ And this is what happens. You elect people like this and he’s not a real conservative.”
Scarborough was part of the so-called Republican revolution in 1994, seen as a pushback against the overreach of then-President Bill Clinton. But after that revolution, he said, some southern Democrats opportunistically became Republicans.
“I’ll tell you, I was around in 1993,” he continued. “I ran in ’94 because of what happened in 1993. You can’t be, at his age, for HillaryCare in 1993 and magically become ‘the tea party — ‘let’s secede from the union. Let’s do this, let’s’ — this happens all the time. You go across the Southeast and there are dime store conservatives from Texas down to south Florida that, seriously, whoever is in power at the time, they are the ones right out front.
“For Rick Perry to say he’s a small government tea party man, ‘you know what, doggone it, let’s secede from the union and Social Security’s a Ponzi scheme, let’s shut down FEMA’ — and in 1993 when the guy was in his 50s or however old he was, he was for HillaryCare?”
Scarborough noted Perry’s opponent, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney had his issues with big government health care reform as well, which he said was not a good indicator for conservatives in the 2012 GOP presidential field. But he continued to play up Perry’s Democratic Party past and contrasted it with his tea party statements from 2009.
“Gov. Perry’s 1993 letter to Hillary Clinton surfaced in one of his gubernatorial campaigns, but you know what though – this is again, I’m sorry,” Scarborough said. “It’s just we see this all the time. And I don’t care whether you are a Democrat or Republican, what you call yourself – if you believe, as Rick Perry believed in 1993 it was commendable that Hillary Clinton was trying to nationalize health care, how do you go from that position in 1993, talking uninsured in 1993 and suddenly in 2010, ‘We are going to secede from the union because of ObamaCare?’”