Tim Pawlenty's presidential campaign has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Texas millionaire Bob Perry, a homebuilder who's best known for paying for the "Swift Boat" ads that falsely attacked Sen. John Kerry's war record during the 2004 presidential election, according to the Center for Public Integrity.
Even if T-Paw's campaign isn't doing well in the polls, at least he's got a friend in a high place -- or low, depending on how you look at it.[jump]
It's not that Pawlenty is the Texan's favorite: Perry supports Republican candidates all over the country, passing out more than $56 million to candidates since 2000. But if he's backing Pawlenty's campaign, but if our former governor is in Perry's back pocket, you have to wonder what the quid pro quo will be.
When it looked like George W. Bush was in danger of losing the White House to John Kerry in 2004, Perry paid for the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" advertisements, which accused Kerry of lying about his war record in Vietnam. Perry's $4.4 million ad campaign, later proven bogus in a series of reports, was credited with sinking Kerry's credibility on national security.
Perry also bought an equally effective ad for Pawlenty in 2006, when the governor faced DFLer Mike Hatch -- though it wasn't tied back to the Texan until months after the election. The last-minute, $500,000 spot oozed slime.
"You're Mike Hatch, and you've got problems," the ad said. "You're under investigation for influence peddling and threatening a judge. You've told the press, 'Sometimes you've got to make deals with the devil.'"
Perry's money helped put Pawlenty over the top for a victory by the narrowest of margins. Last September, Perry chipped in $60,000 to Freedom First, Pawlenty's state political action committees that are funding his campaigns in New Hampshire and Iowa. That 60 grand is a drop in the bucket for Perry, and the money itself won't even mean much for Pawlenty in the long run. But having the name Bob Perry attached to his campaign might give him some of the credibility he so badly needs in conservative circles.
Not that he wants to talk about his own deal with the devil. Researchers with the Center for Public Integrity's iWatch team tried to contact Pawlenty eight times to ask about Perry, using phone, e-mail and text messages. They're still waiting for him to call back.Related: