The deputy secretary of the Treasury, John E. Robson, doesn't have much use for Ross Perot.
In a recent speech, Mr. Robson referred to the independent presidential candidate as "this twerp" and "this billionaire Harold Stassen."
If the Republican administration needs someone to take on Mr. Perot in such terms, it might as well be the 62-year-old Mr. Robson.
"It's hard not to draw comparisons between the men.
Mr. Perot stands 5 feet 7. Mr. Robson is about an inch taller.
Mr. Robson, who eats light and exercises hard, could have been the kid the schoolyard bullies picked on -- at their peril. Like Mr. Perot, he stands straight as an arrow and is careful about his appearance and manners. He'll doff his jacket in the office but won't roll up his sleeves or loosen his tie.
Both men have made substantial fortunes, though Mr. Robson is worth between $6 million and $16 million, compared with Mr. Perot's billions.
The way they express themselves is perhaps the most uncanny resemblance. Mr. Robson, who plans to step down after the election even if President Bush wins, has a con-do spirit and a predilection for colorful one-liners, just like the independent candidate.
"When you have this job, you have criticism for breakfast," he quipped when asked about his detractors.
"Regulation isn't supposed to be a terroristic act," is how he explains his jawboning of bank examiners though to be overzealous.
Mr. Robson and Mr. Perot are far from clones, however, and the differences help explain Mr. Robson's distaste for the candidate.
Two Views of George Bush
First, Mr. Robson is a longstanding friend of George Bush, whom Mr. Perot is believed to dislike intensely.
Also, the deputy Treasury secretary has worked at more places than Mr. Perot.
In the Republican Ford administration he was chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board. In the Democratic Johnson administration, he was general counsel in the Department of Transportation.
Outside of government, he worked as a lawyer in private practice, as an executive at the G.D. Searle pharmaceutical company, and as dean of the Emory University business school.
It was Mr. Robson's private-sector experiences with government and its red tape that convinced him to become a fervent deregulator. He was one of the first administration officials to appreciate the link between the economy's weak performance and the falloff in bank lending, ascribed to overzealous regulation.
Mr. Robson led the administration's effort to persuade examiners to be more evenhanded. He arranged meetings between government officials and businessmen to find solutions -- the kind of thing Mr. Perot talks about doing.
Mr. Robson said he has gained a higher regard for government employees than Mr. Perot expresses.
In a recent speech to the Washington Rotary Club, Mr. Robson was asked about Mr. Perot's bashing of bureaucrats.
"Speaking for myself and a lot of wonderful people that I have known who've taken time out of their lives to serve in government," the Treasury official said, "I found entirely, offensive his observations about people who come to public service."
Mr. Perot, he said, is "entirely hypocritical" in depicting bureaucrats as "people who come to aggrandize their own wealth."
"This twerp, this billionaire Harold Stassen, who hasn't served a single day in public service in his whole life . . . built his personal fortune off of government contracts and dealing with government people," Mr. Robson said. Now the Texas mogul "has the temerity to say that all people in government are a bunch of bums."