Texas Gov. Rick Perry is getting closer and closer to jumping into the Republican presidential fray.
He’s meeting in Texas with Republicans from around the nation who are urging him to run for the White House cherry blossoms and are willing to finance a bid. A nascent campaign organization is quickly ramping up to speed, with his top aides talking to potential staffers in early primary/caucus states.
Such a strategy matches that of another Texas governor – George W. Bush who leaped from that job to the White House in 2001 – though it’s progressing at a faster speed, Politico reports.
This week in Austin, Perry will host elected officials from Arkansas, Tennessee and Georgia plus a group of national donors. And next week he’ll meet with another group of money bundlers.
“So many people want to do these, we’ve had to add dates,” said Dave Carney, Perry’s top strategist, told Politico
After meeting with Perry Monday as part of a four-person group from Arkansas, state Rep. David Sanders said, “I got the feeling that there are a lot of people who are doing what we did – which is telling him he ought to do this.”
Perry has taken his act on the road too. Last week, he visited five cities in California to meet large crowds of willing donors. One of his hosts for an event was Charles Schwab, founder of the discount brokerage firm bearing his name. Perry also hit Colorado on the trip.
In the nation’s capital, meanwhile, Rep. Tim Griffin of Arkansas, who was a top national Republican strategist before heading to Congress, extolled Perry’s virtues in talks with other GOP lawmakers.
“People are very, very interested in somebody else,” aside from the current crop of official Republican presidential candidates, Griffin told Politico.
Perry’s standing has improved markedly in recent polls, and activists in Iowa have expressed support for the Texan. Backers appreciate his outspoken style and strong personality.
“He’s Technicolor, and the other guys are black-and-white,” one Republican who recently met Perry told Politico.
Perry’s aide Carney, who is based in New Hampshire, has spoken with potential heavyweight campaign staffers in Iowa, South Carolina, and Florida.
The support for Perry is seemingly coming from everywhere. GrowPAC, a group founded by former New York Senate candidate David Malpass, is financing radio ads in Iowa urging citizens to write in Perry’s name on the Ames straw poll ballot, Politico reports. The 60-second spots will hit the airwaves in markets surrounding Ames.
"President Obama is making things worse. We need a president who will stop this," Malpass says in the ad. "Iowa has a chance to turn things around for America. At the Ames Straw Poll write in Rick Perry, he can win and make America secure again. I worked for Ronald Reagan, and I know how countries create growth and jobs. Let’s give Rick Perry a chance."
On the policy front, Texas’ buoyant employment outlook is providing a fertile foundation for a Perry campaign.
Business Journals reported Monday that Texas led the nation running away having added 537,500 non-farm jobs from June 2006 to June 2011, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The first paragraph of a USA Today story analyzing the same figures reads: “Need a job? Move to Texas.”
The Perry brain trust already is taking advantage of Texas’ lofty status on the job front. Adviser Carney wrote on Twitter: "Alert: in June '11 USA & Obama creates just 18k jobs same month Texans & Perry creates 32K jobs: so Nation lost 14k jobs!"
What might surprise some Republicans is that Perry apparently isn’t afraid of bucking social conservatives – at least on the issue of gay marriage. His comments in Aspen, Col., last Friday make clear that as a proponent of states’ rights, Perry has no problem with states that sanction gay marriage.
"Our friends in New York six weeks ago passed a statute that said marriage can be between two people of the same sex,” he said, according to Real Clear Politics. “And you know what? That's New York, and that's their business, and that's fine with me. That is their call. If you believe in the 10th Amendment, stay out of their business."
The 10th Amendment reads: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."
That stance already has drawn the ire of Gary Bauer, president of American Values, a group devoted to defending “life, marriage, family, faith, and freedom.”
The former Reagan administration official strongly contests Perry’s point. "His comments were inartful and disappointing,” Bauer said. “The 10th Amendment and states' rights are very important to conservatives, but it's not our highest value. There are some things so fundamentally wrong that we have not left those things up to the states."
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