Michele Bachmann's allies are telling South Carolina voters that Rick Perry is not an "honest conservative."
A super PAC connected to Bachmann, the Republican presidential candidate and representative from Minnesota, has announced its plans to air an ad in the the second-in-the-nation primary state of South Carolina that questions the tea party credentials of Perry, the Texas governor who has upended the 2012 campaign.
"Rick Perry says he's one tough hombre on spending" the narrator says in the ad, before criticizing Perry's record in Texas.
"Rick Perry doubled spending in a decade. And this year, Rick Perry is spending more money than the state takes in, covering his deficits with record borrowing," the ad continues. "And he's supposed to be the tea party guy?"
"There is an honest conservative--and she's not Rick Perry," the ad concludes. It is paid for by "Keep Conservatives United," a group that supports Bachmann's candidacy.
Watch the ad below:
Perry's campaign branded the ad "blatantly false" in a statement Thursday.
"Gov. Perry is a proven fiscal conservative, having cut taxes, signed six balanced budgets, and led Texas to become America's top job-creating state," Ray Sullivan, a Perry spokesman, said in a statement. "Congresswoman Bachmann's front-group ad is patently and provably false."
Which side is correct? Each campaign has framed their statements in a way that makes them justifiable.
"There's a semantic problem here that I'm sure both sides will exploit," said James Henson, the director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas, in an interview with The Ticket.
Henson added that claiming Perry
borrowed to cover deficits "vastly oversimplifies what was a complicated and ugly budget process this time around."
The budget was balanced this year, as Perry claims, but the state legislature will have to revisit the budget in January because lawmakers relied on tentative projections, Henson said.
Super PACs like "Keep Conservatives United" were made possible by the 2010 Supreme Court ruling Citizens United v. FEC. They are permitted to raise unlimited amounts of money from corporations, unions and individuals, and are barred from coordinating with candidates and political parties.
Bachmann is placing her campaign bets in Iowa and South Carolina, and for now she is is essentially blowing off the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary.
"Iowa is our main focus right now, secondly is South Carolina," Alice Stewart, a Bachmann spokeswoman, wrote in an email to Politico. "We do plan to build on our efforts in New Hampshire in due time."
Bachmann hasn't visited New Hampshire since she officially began her campaign two months ago, and she is the only Republican candidate who hasn't made a stop there since the Aug. 13 straw poll in Iowa, according to the Politico report.