August is shaping up as a make-it-or-break-it month for the Republican presidential field. With a debate, the Iowa Straw Poll, and the possible entry into the race of Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, the month may reveal who is best-positioned to challenge front-runner Mitt Romney for the nomination, The Washington Post
The month also may reveal the final makeup of the field and whether Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, R-Minn., have staying power. “We are fast approaching act two of the primary cycle,” GOP strategist Todd Harris told the Post. “The next couple weeks will be revealing in terms of who has what it takes to have a second act and who doesn’t.”
The race has been overshadowed for most of the summer by events transpiring in Washington, but with the first votes six months away, candidates hoping to challenge Romney must break out of the pack. So far, the race has been marked by a lack of enthusiasm for Romney and the inability of the field to take advantage of that, the Post reported.
Of all the candidates, Pawlenty has the most at risk during the next week, according to the Post. While his candidacy hinges on winning in Iowa, he has polled in the single digits and been overshadowed by Bachmann. She too must win in Iowa, making Saturday’s straw poll in Ames essential for both campaigns.
Scott Reed, who managed Bob Dole’s 1996 campaign, told the Post that Pawlenty has the most to lose in Iowa. “The Iowa caucus can make a candidate,” he said. “The straw poll can break a candidate, and Pawlenty is in the danger zone.”
Although Romney, Jon Huntsman, and Newt Gingrich are not competing actively in the straw poll, the ballot will include their names, as well as those of former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, businessman Herman Cain, and Reps. Thaddeus McCotter, R-Mich., and Ron Paul, R-Texas, the Post reported.
However, if Perry jumps into the race, it might overshadow the results of the straw poll and the rest of the field except for Romney. “I do believe that Perry will either rise quickly and hang, or rise quickly and pop,” the Post quoted another candidate’s adviser as saying.
Perry is beginning to look more and more like a candidate. He is expected to announce his presidential plans shortly after the Ames Straw Poll, The Fix reported. An email from a real-estate executive Perry appointed to the University of Texas board of regents, states, “We expect that announcement in a week to 10 days.”
The email from Gene Powell then tells recipients to start writing checks.
However, Perry adviser David Carney warned about reading too much into the e-mail. “While we are encouraged by this enthusiasm, we have not made the final decision, as even this email indicates,” Carney told The Fix, “and there are some other items in that email that are incorrect, but it just goes to demonstrate how excited some of our folks are.”
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