Washington (CNN) – Sometimes politics is conducted a bit at arms length and it appears that's exactly how former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld plans to keep it.
A source very close to Rumsfeld confirms that last week several former top Pentagon officials from Rumsfeld's tenure traveled to Austin, Texas to meet with Governor Rick Perry on national security and foreign policy issues. The source doesn't want his name used because he says Rumsfeld is not re-entering the political fray and that the arrangements were all conducted by "Perry's office" contacting "Rumsfeld's office" for ideas about whom to speak with.
The two men never spoke directly. "Rumsfeld is not advising Perry," the source insisted.
That said, Rumsfeld has met in recent weeks with a number of unspecified Republican candidates because he "stands ready to help any serious contender for the Republican nomination think through the national security challenges the country is facing," the source said.
Perry's office contacted Rumsfeld's office for a list of names of national security experts. That led to the meeting with the Texas governor which included Douglas Feith a former top official at the Pentagon involved in planning the Iraq war and its aftermath. Feith became one of the most controversial figures at the Pentagon during the Rumsfeld years, when violence in Iraq was at a peak. Also attending the meeting were other top former Rumsfeld Pentagon officials including Bill Lute and Dan Fata.
A spokesman for Gov. Perry refused to comment on any specific meetings. Mark Miner would only say "the Governor has always enjoyed meeting with a wide array of folks who bring unique experiences and views to the issues of the day."
Former Federal Prosecutor Andrew McCarthy, who is now a columnist for National Review Online, attended the meeting as well and wrote about it Wednesday.
Information about the Rumsfeld connection was first reported in Politico.