Rick Perry says he’s nearing decision on presidential race

Washington Bureau

Rick Perry’s flirtation with a presidential run may be nearing an end.

The Texas governor told the Des Moines Register -- the largest newspaper in the leadoff nominating state -- that he’s two to three weeks away from making a decision.

That timeframe puts him on track for an announcement in the first weeks of August, a time when the announced Republican contenders will be barnstorming Iowa ahead of the Ames Straw Poll, one of the nominating race’s major cattle calls.


It also promises to draw even more attention to an Aug. 6 prayer gathering that Perry is hosting at Houston’s Reliant Stadium, called: “The Response: a call to prayer for a nation in crisis.”

“As an elected leader, I’m all too aware of government’s limitations when it comes to fixing things that are spiritual in nature. That’s where prayer comes in, and we need it more than ever,” Perry says in a video posted to the event’s website.

In the Des Moines Register interview, Perry claims that running for president “is what I’ve been called to do,” and “what America needs.”

Perry’s entrance would undeniably scramble the GOP race. Rep. Michele Bachmann has emerged in the past month as the most prominent challenger to Mitt Romney’s status as national front-runner, owing to her connection with “tea party” activists and social conservatives.

Perry’s appeal is with just that faction of the GOP base, and unlike Bachmann -- or any of the candidates, for that matter -- he has a 10-year record in an executive office and the launching pad of one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing states.

“If anybody tries to argue the fact that we have not created an economic juggernaut in the state of Texas, then they’re either naive, they have a political agenda, or they’re just not paying attention,” Perry told the Register, hinting at what would be the foundation of his campaign’s message.

In jumping into the campaign pool, only Sarah Palin could make a bigger splash. Perry arguably has as close a political connection to Palin as anyone short of John McCain, who led the ticket when they ran for the White House in 2008. One of her first campaign events after the 2008 election was on Perry’s behalf, as he faced a primary challenge in his reelection bid from Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Palin hasn’t offered the same kind of guidance as to when she might make a decision on running, however. By most accounts, she has not been taking the kind of preparatory steps that Perry is. Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad told the Register he has spoken with Perry, and expects him to visit the state soon. Key figures in New Hampshire, the first primary state, have also said Perry has reached out to them.