The docket of candidates for the Republican presidential field has almost finalized after a slow start earlier this year. It is increasingly clear that Michele Bachmann and Jon Huntsman are primed to enter the field, and both Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump removed themselves out of contention over the last several days. Mitch Daniels and Sarah Palin remain the only prominent possible candidates whose intentions are unclear.
As possible candidates drop away and others falter at the starting line, unexpected GOP politicians may look at the winnowed field and see an opportunity to run their own campaigns. Yesterday Real Clear Politics raised the prospect of Texas Gov. Rick Perry as a potential candidate. Perry's name was bandied about frequently after he was re-elected last November, but he denied national ambitions at every step. Now RCP says that his "political associates" have begun putting out feelers on Perry's behalf. Greg Sargent at The Washington Post argued that the Perry rumors should be taken seriously. "As Texas governor, he would have rapid access to the kind of money it takes to compete seriously," Sargent writes.
I'm not buying the speculation. RCP's article is thinly sourced, containing only a few anonymous political operatives who have discussed a possible Perry campaign, hardly a reflection on what the man himself wants. Perry again reiterated his lack of desire in clear terms yesterday. "I've made my decision. If I really believe in the 10th Amendment, then being a governor of a state is where the action is," Perry said.
Sargent was right to highlight Perry's fundraising prowess, and if Perry was seriously contemplating a presidential run, his backers could provide the money to kick-start a late-entry campaign. But Perry's major Texas donors have already committed their money to other candidates; Bob Perry (no relation) gave Rick over $1.2 million in 2010 but has attached himself to Tim Pawlenty for 2012, as has Harold Simmons, a $500,000 donor last year for Perry's re-election. His longtime donors would have been among the first people Perry would have consulted if he was actually considering a presidential campaign.