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

Tuesday, April 05, 2005
the WaPo picks the story up...a week late
Mike Allen and Brian Faler:
The 46-second video shows Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) hugging -- twice -- with pair of cheek rubs thrown in for good measure.

This was no undercover effort to document secret bipartisanship. The clip was recorded and e-mailed by supporters of Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), who is likely to be challenged by Hutchison for the GOP nomination when he runs for reelection next year.

One statewide Republican incumbent trying to smear another is unusual, even in today's few-holds-barred political culture. The tape was made March 3 at Capitol Hill's Sewall-Belmont House, a landmark of the women's suffrage movement, during a Women's History Month event.

"I'm delighted that Kay is my partner on so many important fronts," Clinton told the audience, to applause. At one point in the crudely spliced video, Clinton purses her lips to plant a smacker on the Texan, who leans in. One frame shows the two rubbing right cheeks.

Aides to the senator said that when reporters from the Austin American-Statesman and Fort Worth Star-Telegram both called Hutchison's office on the same day last week to report that they had received the video from Republicans, it was pretty obvious who was behind it. Event organizers said only two cameras had been on hand: one from Home and Garden Television, the event's sponsor, and the other from a hired team based in Arlington, Va., that said it was working for Perry.

Chris Paulitz, Hutchison's spokesman, called it "stalking a U.S. senator."

Luis Saenz, Perry's campaign director, said the campaign provided the video to four or five "key supporters and consultants," and that somehow it got on the Web. "The campaign did not distribute it," said Saenz, who was unapologetic. "Any good campaign operation monitors what potential opponents say and do," he added. "Any potential opponent is not going to get a free ride."

Now, the Hutchison forces have turned up an artifact of their own. It's a letter signed by Perry in 1993, when he was Texas agriculture commissioner and Clinton was first lady, presiding over the ill-fated Task Force on National Health Care Reform.

"Dear Mrs. Clinton," the letter begins. "I think your efforts in trying to reform the nation's health care system are most commendable."

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