Bruce Bartlett, who served as an adviser to Ronald Reagan and as a Treasury official under George H.W. Bush, called Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry "an idiot" Friday, referencing negative comments the Texas governor made about Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke this week.
While campaigning in Iowa Monday, Perry said it would be "almost treasonous" for Bernanke to print more money between now and the 2012 election. "I don't know what y'all would do to him in Iowa, but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas," he said.
Bartlett reacted to the comments Friday during an appearance on CNN's "American Morning." "Rick Perry is an idiot, and I don't think anybody would disagree with that," Bartlett said. "The thing is, the politics of the Fed itself are really a more serious problem."
Perry has received backlash from more than just Bartlett over the controversial statements. Several former aides to President George W. Bush have said Perry's comments prove he is not presidential material.
This morning, Nicolle Wallace, who served as White House Communications Director in Bush’s second term, said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe that “someone who wants to be the next president probably shouldn’t use these words” and agreed that Republicans should “lay off of some of this some personal stuff and keep it ideological.” “Not only is it going to maybe turn off some people in the middle, but these aren’t fights that are going to serve Perry well politically,” she added.
Peter Wehner, who served as Deputy Assistant to Bush and Director of the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives, wrote a post on Commentary magazine’s blog calling the comments irresponsible “libel” and urged Perry to apologize for them.
Bush's former deputy press secretary, Tony Fratto, also criticized Perry's comments on Twitter, posting: "Gov. Perry's comments about Chmn. Bernanke are inappropriate and unpresidential.
Karl Rove had perhaps the harshest criticism for Perry while appearing on Fox News Tuesday. Talking Points Memo reports that Rove said on the show, "You don't accuse the chairman of the Federal Reserve of being a traitor to his country. Of being guilty of treason. And, suggesting that we treat him pretty ugly in Texas. You know, that is not, again a presidential statement."
Rove has expressed worry over all the GOP presidential hopefuls, stating that they need to think more about electability than moving further to the right.
"You don't want these candidates moving so right in the Republican primary that it becomes impossible for them to win the general election, because it will become a self-defeating message in the primary," Rove said in an appearance on Fox News. "People want to win. They don't want somebody who goes so far to the extremes of either party that they lack a chance to carry a victory off in November."
Perry has defended his statements about Bernanke, saying he is "just passionate about the issue."