Drudge is stirring the pot with this by framing it as a “watch your mouth!” ultimatum but Bambi’s actually as mild as can be. Rather than counterattack, he offers a banality about how all presidential hopefuls learn to moderate their rhetoric once they’re on the big stage and leaves it at that. With good reason: The surest way to elevate Perry’s candidacy would be to take the bait and end up in a war of words with him and Obama knows it. The low-key approach, which Carney’s also following, is the smart play, especially when Perry’s getting it on all sides from O’s surrogates in the media. In fact, Blitzer did him a favor here by focusing on Perry’s claim that the military wants a vet for president. There’s no sting in that charge given that it implicates the rest of the GOP field too. If he had wanted to put Obama on the spot, he would have referred to Perry’s thinly veiled claim at that Iowa dinner a few nights ago that the military doesn’t respect Obama, period. I hate political attacks that try to drive a wedge — or exploit an existing wedge — between American soldiers and their commander-in-chief, but it’ll play well among the base, no doubt. I wonder if the guy who gave the order to take out Bin Laden would have reacted more strongly if Blitzer had thrown that at him.
Perry, by the way, refused to apologize for his “treason” comment about Bernanke when pressed this morning by reporters. That’s also strategic insofar as he wants to protect his image as the gun-toting cowboy in the race who won’t back down from a confrontation, especially in light of his chief competitor’s image as a milquetoast who’s ducking Iowa because he’s afraid he can’t win there. (Doesn’t hurt either that the Fed is widely loathed as a symbol of bailouts, which gives his Bernanke remarks, however dodgy, some currency.) Politico wonders how much “colorful” rhetoric it’ll take before establishment Republicans conclude that the guy’s a loose cannon who’s too risky to rally behind. My guess: Who cares? Unless Ryan or Christie gets in, their only choice is between Romney and Perry, and Perry’s way better positioned than Mitt against Obama to turn out the base with his small-government platform and independents with his record on jobs. (Speaking of which, if you follow only one link on the site today, let it be this one.) If anything, the occasional over-the-top allusion to stringing up Ben Bernanke will only further endear him to populists while RINOs like me pine for a guy like Ryan who’ll skip the alpha-male red meat and drill down on specific reforms to entitlements. Maybe next cycle?
Update: Not to be outdone, Herman Cain ups the ante.