Since Wednesday's Republican primary debate, photos have circulated among Ron Paul fans of Rick Perry sassily wagging his finger in their libertarian hero's face during a commercial break. A pro-Paul witness reported that Perry was "menacing" his fellow Texan, though the Reuters photo caption more dryly describes it as a "talk." What actually happened? Doesn't matter: it was all part of Paul's master plan.

Politico's Ben Smith reports that Paul's campaign has grown more sophisticated -- less ideological and more practical -- after observing his son Rand's successful senate candidacy last fall. The Paul campaign's goal, Smith reports, was to goad Perry into "punching down" with some attack ads calling him "Al Gore's Texas cheerleader."
 
"Clearly we ruffled ome feathers over there, because they did engage, and that speaks to the fact that they’re taking Ron very, very seriously," Paul aide Jesse Benton told Smith. Benton continued: 
"What it shows is that Rick Perry is a very aggressive, in your face person... He puts his hands on people, he tries to show that he's the alpha dog, he tries to psychologically intimidate people and gets in people's faces.
 
Some people like that, but other people like someone who's going to be a more thoughtful president, not a bully."
 
Though Perry can't be too much of a bully, because on Friday, Paul told supporters -- after pretending to forget Perry's name -- that he couldn't remember what Perry was talking about: