Here we go: Rick Perry now "leaning toward getting in"; Report: Perry offered Gingrich campaign manager a job last week? Update: More rumbles

That was fast.

[A] source close to Perry’s political team told RealClearPolitics on Thursday afternoon that the Texas governor is “leaning toward getting in” to the race.

Two of Perry’s longtime political aides, Dave Carney and Rob Johnson, were among the large group of advisers who announced Thursday that they were leaving Gingrich’s team. Carney has been a top political adviser to Perry for 14 years and continues to counsel him, and Johnson managed his most recent gubernatorial campaign…

As a prominent Texan with a longtime political infrastructure, not to mention a key finance perch atop the Republican Governors Association, Perry could gear up for a race more quickly than most of the top Republican politicians eyeing a presidential run…

Perry is said to have a solid relationship with his predecessor at the RGA, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who declined to run for president himself.

I’ve been assuming that Daniels, Barbour, and their well-heeled friends will end up rallying behind an establishment fave like Romney or Pawlenty, but I’m intrigued by the prospect of Barbour swinging around to a grassroots hero like Perry. He’d be formidable under any circumstance but very formidable with that kind of money behind him. Not so formidable that he’d be a lock to win, of course, but enough to give tea partiers pause about how they should vote in the primaries. An evenly split vote among “true conservatives” only benefits Romney; if Perry looks like he’s got the cash and cache to win the nomination, even some grassroots righties who prefer Bachmann, Palin, or Cain might tilt towards him on electability grounds.

Exit question: If Perry jumps in next week, will Palin still run? Bachmann’s committed to getting in, I think, simply because she has home-field advantage in Iowa and is betting that she can raise her national profile considerably by doing well there. It’s not about winning the nomination, in other words, it’s about building stature within the GOP a la Huckabee. Palin’s expectations will be higher, though, and now she’ll have to grapple with a third competitor who’s not only popular with her core constituency but well funded to boot. Worth giving it a go anyway?

Update: Like I said in the other thread, the timing of today’s announcement makes little sense if you think the mutiny is related to Gingrich’s vacation. If you think it’s related to the blossoming “Perry for president” campaign, though, it makes perfect sense:

[A] source close to the Gingrich campaign tells The Blaze that Perry has offered Gingrich’s now-departed campaign manager, Rob Johnson — who used to be the campaign manager for Perry — his old job back.

According to the source, “Rob and Perry spoke last week and Perry told him his old job is waiting for him.”

“I know that for a fact,” the source said.

Follow the link and check out the tweet from Weekly Standard writer Stephen Hayes claiming that Dave Carney — then Gingrich’s advisor — was pushing “Perry for president” speculation in Texas two weeks ago. I’m amazed that Newt didn’t realize that his team might be ready to bail on him for greener pastures before taking off on vacay. Or maybe he did realize it and figured he might as well go if they’re going to abandon him soon anyway.

Update: Another tremor via Rich Lowry:

“he’s in”: that’s what a TX source who’s always discounted idea that gov perry would run just told me

On the other hand, sources inside Perry’s team tell Bryan Preston that nothing has changed.