Texas Gov. Rick Perry acknowledged Friday that he will consider a bid for president, reversing his past opposition to the race and setting up a period of intense speculation about whether he will run and whether he can win.
“I’m gonna think about it,” Perry said when asked about the presidential race.
Perry chief of staff Ray Sullivan said earlier this week that the praise the governor has won from the likes of conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh — among others — has made an impact.
“The discussion about the governor’s fiscal and social conservative successes can’t help but get one’s attention,” said Sullivan. “It has been loud and enthusiastic and flattering.”
Sullivan added that Perry “has done nothing different, has no intention of running and has done nothing to fan the flames.”
What’s clear, however, is that Perry’s thinking on the race has evolved somewhat over the past six months. With several potential top -tier contenders like former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels deciding against running, space has opened up for someone like Perry — a fiscal conservative with close ties to the tea party — to not only run but to be a major player in the contest.
And while Perry has been courted by some conservative leaders for months, the pace and tenor of those entreaties has increased exponentially in recent weeks, according to those close to the governor.
Remember that Perry has been going full-speed politically since 2008 — he bounced from a serious primary challenge from Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison to a targeted general election fight against former Houston Mayor Bill White (D) to the chairmanship of the Republican Governors Association to the state’s biennial legislative session all in the space of the last three years.
The Texas legislative session is scheduled to end on Monday. Next week will be Perry’s first time to sit down and give the race a serious look.
It appears less than likely that he runs: his two top political aides have signed on with former House speaker Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign and Perry has repeatedly said he doesn’t want to come to Washington.
But the allure of a wide-open presidential race is powerful — perhaps even to Perry.