A grinning Rick Perry recorded something for YouTube.
It starts by showing a critical tweet from Donald Trump while birds chirp in the background (TWITTER, GET IT?). Perry goes on for a couple of minutes, talking up his work to combat illegal immigration while pretending that he's talking to Donald Trump. At the two-minute mark, Perry decries Trump's comments about Mexicans. "Your remarks might make for good reality TV," Perry says, "but they're out of touch with reality."
The video ends, viewers are asked to "stand with Governor Perry," and the great wheel of politics turns on.
Donald Trump! Everyone wants to know about the latest thing Donald Trump did or said. Everyone has thoughts on what the Golden Hairdo has to offer, and everyone has thoughts about everyone else's thoughts. And for 2016 candidates desperate to get some attention, for those candidates who are on the brink of making or falling out of that first Fox News debate Aug. 6, Donald Trump is their SpaceX rocket. He might carry them out past the stratosphere; he might blow them all to pieces.
I got an e-mail from Mark Everson's campaign on Tuesday. Everson is the un-Trump, a former Republican administration staffer who's trying to get some traction in 2016 race. He's not one of the 16 people usually cited as contenders, but he's not just one of the 80-plus other random Republicans that's running. So here is what Everson had to say:
Sure, why not? Everson knows that Trump isn't going to drop out because he demanded it. But his campaign is loading up that rocket, and who knows how many people can clamber on?
Only slightly less unlikely was former New York governor George Pataki's demands that other Republicans denounce Trump or request that Trump debate him one-on-one. Pataki, as our most recent graphic shows, is not making the cut in that important first Fox News debate. But there's Rick Perry, hanging out in ninth place at the far left. Right on the bubble? Chris Christie, who hit Trump indirectly by criticizing Ted Cruz's defense of the the guy.
Rick Santorum criticized Trump. Lindsey Graham did too. Carly Florina said that Trump "doesn’t represent me and he doesn’t represent my party" -- holding the Republican Party close to her while shouting into the megaphone Trump has generously offered her.
Frontrunning candidates have hit Trump, too, including Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. But for some of the lower-tier -- the B-squad -- Trump is a perfect vehicle to get into the press. Why not toss a few statements at him and see what sticks?
The beauty of Trump is that he's just as likely to pick them up and throw them back. He's a never-ending tornado of media engagement, and the minor league 2016 candidates are those little balls Helen Hunt made in "Twister," hoping to get sucked up into the sky by a spiraling tornado/Trump.
I mean, it works. Rick Perry's video, here on the Washington Post Web site! Mark Everson's press release! In any campaign, people will throw punches and pull chairs out from beneath their competitors. But with that 10-person debate looming and Donald Trump yakking, this is a moment that's impossible to resist.
Not that candidates are trying.