The sharp words escalated Wednesday among Texas' top three Republican officeholders as Sen. John Cornyn slapped back at Gov. Rick Perry for second-guessing him and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison over their votes in favor of the financial bailout.

The sparring before the Republican gubernatorial primary shows that the 2008 Senate vote to bail out Wall Street and banks remains controversial.

Cornyn said his support was based on a false promise from the Bush and Obama administrations on how the money would be spent.

I'm not so sure I would change my vote based on what was represented at the time, but I am very disappointed that the money was used in ways that were very different, Cornyn said.

In the bruising fight for the Republican nomination for governor, Perry is attacking Hutchison's support for the bailout.

On Inside Texas Politics Sunday, Hutchison, unlike Cornyn, said she would take back the vote.

Of course it was a mistake, knowing what we know now, she said.

But she said Perry backed the bailout, too, citing a letter he co-signed, which urged senators to pass an economic recovery package.

Perry said at a Dallas campaign event that he didn't endorse the specific bailout, just a common-sense solution.

He maintained his criticism of Hutchison and Cornyn on the bailout.

We all make votes, we all have a record, we all must defend that, Perry said.

In perhaps his sharpest response yet to Perry, Cornyn had some advice.

Governor Perry knows it is very easy to second-guess the decisions made of elected representatives, particularly months after the fact, Cornyn said, and I would just urge him to be careful about that.

Cornyn said he won't endorse either Hutchison or Perry, but it is clear whom he's working closely with.

Senator Hutchison and I are fighting very hard here in Washington, D.C., to try to fight off some of the reckless spending, Cornyn said.

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