Even amid a growing consensus in Washington that Rick Perry is likely to run for president, the Texas governor’s top political adviser reiterated on Thursday that Perry remains undecided.
“He’s not made a decision,” Dave Carney, Perry’s political strategist, told National Journal in an interview. “He’s not leaning one way or another.”
Speculation about Perry has been fueled by reports that the governor and Carney have called an array of GOP officials across the country, including in the pivotal early states of Iowa and New Hampshire. Carney acknowledged the calls began in earnest after the Independence Day holiday, but he said they are a genuine attempt to gauge Perry’s level of support should he decide to run—not a thinly veiled attempt to put together a campaign.
”A normal person wouldn’t just throw their hat in the ring without having any idea the amount of support or potential for being successful,” said Carney.
He added later: “This is not like a pretend process to build a campaign. We won’t do anything until he makes a decision.”
To be sure, Perry has made it a point of late to raise his national profile. He’s hosting a national prayer meeting in Houston on August 6, and a group of unaffiliated supporters of Perry’s have already raised $400,000 to urge him to run. Most GOP officials have also been effusive about Perry’s prospects when talking to Carney, he said.
The Lone Star State chief executive is one of the few remaining potential candidates, along with Sarah Palin and Rudy Giuliani, who has yet to decide about a candidacy. He's also likely the most consequential: As a governor of the country’s second-largest state with an enviable job-creation record, he would immediately become one of the field’s strongest candidates.
But his candidacy would also start much later than that of top rivals like Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney, who have spent years building a network of supporters. Carney repeatedly stressed that Perry’s late start puts him at a disadvantage.
He said the governor will make a decision by the end of summer, or, as Carney put it, “hopefully sooner.”
“Every day that goes by is a lost opportunity, but he’s not going to jump in this thing unprepared,” he said.
Part of what is holding Perry back is determining if he can withstand the personal toll that running for president takes on the candidate.
“Running for president is more than hard, it’s an unbelievable, brutal nomination process,” Carney said. “He’s heard the good, bad, and ugly about what it takes personally takes, so that’s factoring in to the decision.”