This week, GOP debate non-withstanding, is Rick Perry week in the Republican party. Tonight, the Texas governor will deliver the keynote address at the Lincoln Day dinner in Manhattan--yet another move indicating that, yes, he might just throw his cowboy hat into the ring. And if he does run, it couldn't come soon enough for unenthused conservatives.
That sentiment sums up the GOP primary these days: there's a bunch of candidates who fail to elicit enthusiasm from the base. National Journal concluded the obvious in a recent insider poll summary: "So far, this is a relatively weak field of candidates. And the decisions not to run by credible contenders...help draw attention to that fact." So the race has turned into a constant search for the next person to save the party: and right-this-second Rick Perry seems like that guy.
This morning, Perry speculation raged. ABC News ran a "Will He or Won't He?" article touting his ability to "assail policies of his own party members" (as opposed to Tim Pawlenty, who crumbled last night when asked about his pointed criticism of Romney). NPR beat the drum for Perry's fiscally-conservative credentials, noting "he's known as a fiscal conservative first and social conservative second." And the Washington Examiner even declared Perry a "winner" of the New Hampshire debate--even though he wasn't even present on the frilly stage.
The deepest read today on Perry's under-the-radar presidential moves comes from Texas Monthly: the article highlights his new speech material intended for a national audience, forthcoming attendance in New Orleans for an event "that looks a lot like a cattle call for White House hopefuls" and repeats the refrain from political observers who think he could shake up the race because--again--the GOP field is "weak and unsettled."
But, by far the best-most-recent reasoning for why Perry should jump into the race came from a blunt, post-White House Robert Gibbs who reckoned on CNN last night: "There's a vacuum for somebody with even a half-decent economic record on the Republican side...I could see how this dangled out would be – could be something that Rick Perry or somebody else would want to jump into."