WASHINGTON -- Most unsuccessful political campaigns involve some measure of finger-pointing after they end. In Rick Perry's case, the back-stabbing began while he was still in the GOP presidential race. And a month after Perry suspended his campaign, it's still continuing.
Joe Allbaugh, the campaign manager brought on in October to try to get the Perry campaign back on track, has been one of the bigger targets for sniping from former staffers loyal to Perry.
The Perry campaign eventually became a showdown between the governor's crew of longtime Texas aides and a new, small group of political consultants who had been brought in to help. Allbaugh, one of the top campaign managers in George W. Bush's 2000 campaign, has been portrayed by former Perry staffers as someone who was separate from both, but who ended up siding with the consultants.
Allbaugh was brought in partly because Perry's wife, Anita, wanted a change and wanted Dave Carney, Perry's long-serving campaign consultant, out. The physically imposing, crewcut-wearing Allbaugh has been cast as the one who blamed Perry's Texas-based staff for mistakes and leaks while not acknowledging that the Washington-based consultants were the ones talking negatively to the press about others in Perry's campaign.
Allbaugh had more reason to clash with Carney and Perry's first campaign manager, Rob Johnson, than with the Washington consultants. That's because Allbaugh only wanted to come on board if he was put in charge of the campaign, and Johnson and Carney were in his way.
Allbaugh said he wanted want full control to prove that he was the true brains of the Bush 2000 effort. Karl Rove and Karen Hughes are generally credited as being the more strategic and political thinkers on that campaign, while Allbaugh has been cast as a logistics guy who "made the trains run on time."
And after Bush won the election in 2000, Rove and Hughes were given top adviser spots at the White House, while Allbaugh was shuffled off to the top job at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Allbaugh has not fared well in the wake of the Perry campaign. There is no love for the D.C. consultants -- Nelson Warfield, Curtis Anderson and Tony Fabrizio -- from the Perry loyalist camp. But Allbaugh was a constant presence on the campaign, unlike the consultants, and his banishment of Carney and Johnson from Austin was just one move that rubbed many of Perry's campaign staff raw.
It has already been reported that on the night that Perry finished fifth in Iowa on Jan. 3, over 100 campaign staffers gathered in the West Des Moines Sheraton and drank at the hotel bar late into the night, and then put the bill on Allbaugh's room. The Texas Tribune reported that that bill was around $1,700, but a former Perry staffer told The Huffington Post on Thursday that more than $3,000 was billed to room 930.
Another former Perry campaign staffer said that after the D.C.-based consultants knifed the Texas crew with anonymous quotes in a Politico story three days before the Iowa caucuses, blaming them for an "ineptly orchestrated, just unbelievably subpar campaign," Allbaugh gathered the campaign staff together in Austin and gave them a charge.
Perry, Allbaugh said, would not be told of the story and would not find out about it, according to a staffer who was present, who conveyed the instructions in disbelief that anyone could expect to keep a news story from reaching a candidate. Perry reads the news regularly himself, and the home page on his computer is the Drudge Report. Allbaugh, the staffer said, did not even have a laptop of his own in Iowa, and instead did his work on hotel lobby computers.
Allbaugh, reached by email, declined to comment on the record.
In a campaign in which both Politico and Real Clear Politics are publishing multiple-part e-books as the campaign unfolds, the back and forth between Perry campaign factions is sure to be a juicy part of the story of the last few months.