Your political gossip item of the day is, no contest, the Politico takeout on Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and their unconvincingly denied mutual dislike. According to a variety of Republican sources quoted in the piece, some anonymously, some not, the Texas governor and the former Massachusetts governor simply don't like each other very much.
Some Republican sources quoted in Maggie Haberman's story say there is no "burning hate" between the two men. (Don't set the bar too high, guys.)
But others say there is serious disdain between the two:
Perry thinks "Romney stands for nothing,” said a Perry confidante. “He’s got no spine, no backbone.”
A longtime Republican activist who knows both men argued that Romney gets the unfair end of criticism, and said that Perry is known to his colleagues as “difficult. He makes lots of demands.”
There’s also the simple fact that, stylistically, the pair couldn’t be more different.
And there's more:
Perry, people familiar with his views said, sees Romney as expedient, overly ambitious and unpalatable to the conservative base. Likewise, people close to Romney said he has unflattering opinions about Perry.
“I think he had a few exasperating experiences with Perry, and he’s not alone in that,” said one source close to Romney. “I think Mitt thinks Perry is not that bright.”
Such private disapproval is probably not unusual among ambitious and strong-minded politicians. If anything, the feud storyline is another sign of what Doyle McManus diagnoses in the Los Angeles Times: a Republican primary that has become "a two-man race." Perry's surge to the lead in polls of Republican voters makes him the first candidate who can push ahead of Romney, who has cultivated an air of inevitability, despite discontent from his party's rightmost fringe. If Romney is Perry's target, and Perry is Romney's big problem, no wonder bygones about past disputes are flaring up again.
You don't read any stories about the feuds between Romney and Jon Huntsman. For the former Utah governor and U.S. ambassador to China, it's getting into the conversation at all that remains a challenge. The Washington Post observes Huntsman trying his hand at retail politics in New Hampshire. It's, well, challenging:
“It starts like this,” Huntsman observed later. “One handshake, one change of heart.” He added dryly, “Or it’s supposed to.”