WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama's top reelection strategist charged Friday that Republican White House hopeful and Texas Governor Rick Perry had "very little to do" with his state's economic success.
"There's a specific reason that Texas has done so well, and that's because the oil industry has done so well in the last few years, and the military has grown because of the challenges that we have had overseas," said David Axelrod.
"And so he's been the beneficiary of things that he had very little to do with," Axelrod told ABC television.
The preemptive strike came one day before Perry, who succeeded George W. Bush in the Texas governor's mansion in 2000, was to formally launch his bid for the Republican nomination to take on Obama in the November 2012 elections.
Perry, campaigning for months in all but name, has been touting his home state's growth and jobs creation over the past decade at a time when the sour national economy and its 9.1 percent unemployment rate are voters' top worry.
"I am a pro-business governor. I will be a pro-business president," Perry told Time magazine in an interview released Thursday, highlighting his opposition to taxes and regulation.
Axelrod also charged that Perry had a "record of decimation, not of progress" on health care and education -- two areas where the governor's Texas foes also say he has done more harm than good.
On CBS television, Axelrod previewed another line of attack on Perry, a social conservative who has been on Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney's heels in poll after poll, noting he has suggested Texas become independent.
"He's also called for secession from the United States of America," said Axelrod, an apparent reference to Perry's remarks to an anti-tax "Tea Party" rally in 2009.
"When we came into the nation in 1845, we were a republic, we were a stand-alone nation," Perry said at the time. "And one of the deals was, we can leave anytime we want. So we're kind of thinking about that again."
Perry spokesman Mark Miner later told the Texas Tribune that the governor was joking, adding: "He has said many times that we have a great union, and he believes it should stay that way."