Rick Perry vs. the World *
Tracking the 2006 Texas gubernatorial race.
* Now at the new Rick Perry vs World

Monday, March 28, 2005
Keep it alive?
Keeping the story alive?
When does a nonstory become a news story?

If you ask a political operative, the answer is: "When it helps my side."

Case in point: The camp of Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison made a mighty attempt last week to pooh-pooh video footage from Washington, showing Texas' senior senator being buddy-buddy at an event with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the New York Democrat.

The Hutchison camp insisted that the exchange of kind words and a couple of hugs was just common courtesy among senators, regardless of party affiliation. But they also knew that such footage could be lethal in a Republican primary against the Texas governor next year.

Once word leaked out that the Perry camp had used political funds to hire the camera crew to capture the camraderie, Hutchison's handlers wasted no time making sure the story had legs strong enough to run at least one more day.
Were I Luis Saenz, I would be thinking, "Please don't throw me in the briar patch!"

Hutchison's camp thinks that Perry looks bad because Perry's campaign sent a videotape of Kay and Hillary and then was less than truthful about it. Thus, they want to keep the story alive.

Color me skeptical.

Keeping the story alive another day just strengthens the impression that Kay and Hillary are friends.

Why? Perry has a layer of protection -- his campaign staff. Even if he's directing everything that the campaign does, he's only indirectly linked to the story. KBH is directly in the story -- she's the one in the video.

Moreover, the story hits at a potential KBH weakness: that primary voters might think she isn't conservative enough. What Perry weakness does the story hit? That he wants to be re-elected? That he's mean? That he's political?

If I were KBH's camp, I would have let the story die.

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