“More than any other potential GOP presidential candidate, President Obama fears Texas Gov. Rick Perry. That’s because Perry is the only one who can devastate virtually any Obama claim…

“A full two and a half years after taking office, Team Obama still blames Bush—for everything except the fall of Adam. Well, there is one other elected chief executive who inherited a Bush economy: Rick Perry, as governor of Texas. And yet I have never once heard Perry whining that the state would be doing so much better if it hadn’t been for the policies of his predecessor.

“To use a football analogy—I mean, we’re talking about Texas—it’s not who hands you the football and it’s not where the ball is handed to you, it’s what you do with the ball after you have it.”

***
“Although Rick Perry’s general election poll standing in Texas is less than impressive Republican primary voters in the state have warmed up to him over the first six months of the year and he’s now the clear favorite in the state.

“31% of Republicans say Perry would be their first choice as nominee next year compared to 15% for Mitt Romney, 11% for Michele Bachmann, 9% for Ron Paul and Sarah Palin, 8% for Newt Gingrich, 6% for Herman Cain, and 2% for Tim Pawlenty.

“Perry’s strength with GOP voters in his home state is a new development. When PPP looked at Texas in January only 9% of Republicans said Perry was their top choice, putting him in 6th place overall and well behind Mike Huckabee’s 24%. But Perry’s shown a lot more interest in a bid since then, Huckabee’s out of the picture, and Gingrich who was in second place at 17% in January has tanked. Perry has likely picked up a lot of the lost support of his fellow southern candidates in the race.”

***
“Rove, who enjoys longstanding and deep ties to Texas Republican politics, said he expects Perry to jump into the race for the GOP nomination — and raise big bucks if he does so.

“‘I think you’re right that he’s going to run,’ Rove said on Fox Business Network.

“‘This is a big state with nearly 24 million people. And if you’re the governor of the state you have the capacity to go out and raise a lot of money from people,’ he said.”

***
“But time is running out to make a decision. With Thursday marking the end of the second fundraising quarter, donors are well on their way to picking candidates and investing in them. Announced candidates are well on their way to setting up a fundraising infrastructure to absorb, and keep absorbing, that support. There’s nothing to stop donors from hedging their bets and backing another contender once primaries begin, but the ability of tentative candidates to claim their share of the pie can fade the longer they wait, strategists say.

“‘The race is going to start in earnest over Labor Day,’ Democratic strategist Dan Gerstein said. Considering August can be a bad month for fundraising and base-building, he said the end of July marks a ‘natural cutoff point’ for entering…

“Brad Blakeman — a former adviser to President George W. Bush, also once a Texas governor — said Perry needs to get going ‘quickly’ if he wants to be competitive. Waiting too long puts any candidate at a disadvantage in terms of fundraising and organizing, he said, and it also raises questions among donors about whether he or she is committed to the cause.

“‘A candidate who has not announced by November is someone who I don’t think anybody can take seriously, because by then the other candidates will have had a great opportunity to fundraise and to organize,’ he said. Blakeman said the same goes for Palin and Giuliani.”

***
“[Fred] Thompson sometimes seemed to think that his campaign would take off simply because of an outpouring of dissatisfaction with every other candidate in the race. It didn’t. Every candidate needs a few big ideas and, even more importantly, a strategy to share them with the voters. Republican primary voters are a fickle, sometimes lazy, sort, who often follow the advice of the professional punditry class in choosing their nominees. Fred was a popular legislator, a key player in the Watergate hearings, and an accomplished attorney. But he spent little time courting the permanent opiners of Washington, so they had little use for him.

“Governor Perry is an accomplished politician and the longest-serving governor in his state’s history. In Washington, that amounts to two things: ‘jack’ and ‘squat.’ Perry needs to remember that the professional punditry of Washington already has spent a good deal of time being courted and, in some cases, all but paid off by candidates who have been running for president since John McCain’s ‘cruel hoax’ came to a blissful end. They aren’t going to rush to embrace someone who hasn’t put the time in to kiss their backsides, take them to expensive dinners, and patiently listen to their bone-headed strategy for winning the South Carolina primary. Voters, too, need to hear more from the governor than simply he is a conservative and everyone else in the race is terrible. He needs to give them a reason, a vision to choose him over people who’ve been on their TV screens and mailboxes for months and all those who the pundits will be talking up incessantly on one political panel or another.”

***
“Two major names remain on the 2012 bench. Each has a giant persona, comes from a giant state, and has a giant following.

“Yes, it’s Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin…

“It’s still too difficult to tell whether one or both will jump in the race. Perry seems more likely, and if he does, Palin might opt out and choose to back her friend.

“In fact, during the midst of her recent bus tour, Palin brought Perry’s name up again, unprompted, telling a group of reporters in Baltimore, ‘I think he would be a fine candidate. We have a lot in common.’

“She added: ‘I really like him.'”