Advisers and elected allies of Texas Gov. Rick Perry tell Whispers that the Republican will join the crowded field of presidential hopefuls by the end of August.
"Perry gets in mid-August. He has to wait until after 'The Response,' the big prayer event he agreed to host months ago," predicted one adviser.
Another close ally of the governor said, "I'd be surprised if he wasn't in by then."
Perry's entry will be a "game changer," said Mark Meckler, cofounder of the Tea Party Patriots, the nation's largest umbrella group for the movement. "It changes the equation because he has a record to run on." That record, added Meckler, is the "Texas miracle" of growth and economic prosperity.
Associates say two things have slowed his jump into the race. First he wasn't planning on getting in in the first place, expecting other like-minded governors, like Indiana's Mitch Daniels or Mississippi's Haley Barbour, to get in, or that Newt Gingrich would take off. [See a slide show of who's in and out for the GOP in 2012.]
"Newt was in the race and Perry literally had no plans to run and couldn't even if he wanted to because his top campaign two guys were working for Newt," said an adviser. "Then Haley decides not to run, Mitch decides not to run, [Mike] Huckabee decides not to run and Newt implodes. If you're Perry, you might think that the presidential race was inviting you to the big dance," added the adviser.
Perry's sponsorship of "The Response" has also delayed his entry. That event takes place August 6 in Houston. In his note about the event, Perry, a favorite of conservatives and Tea Party members, shows he's also ready to corral the evangelicals. [Check out political cartoons about the 2012 GOP field.]
He writes: "Right now, America is in crisis: we have been besieged by financial debt, terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters. As a nation, we must come together and call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles, and thank Him for the blessings of freedom we so richly enjoy. Some problems are beyond our power to solve, and according to the Book of Joel, Chapter 2, this historic hour demands a historic response. Therefore, on August 6, thousands will gather to pray for a historic breakthrough for our country and a renewed sense of moral purpose. I sincerely hope you'll join me in Houston on August 6th and take your place in Reliant Stadium with praying people asking God's forgiveness, wisdom and provision for our state and nation. There is hope for America. It lies in heaven, and we will find it on our knees."
Polls show substantial support for Perry. Gallup today has him winning in the South and within striking distance of leading the pack in the Midwest and East. [Read more about the 2012 presidential election.]
One very close adviser said that Perry keeps in contact with key governors from around the nation, like Barbour, Daniels, and even Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who runs the other state with a good employment and economic record. There's even talk that if he wins the nomination, he'd pick one of those three as a runningmate.
On the Republican Governor's Association website, in fact, Perry and McDonnell win top billing for a CNBC report that Texas and Virginia are the best states for business. Perry is the group's chairman, McDonnell its vice chairman.
"The RGA is blessed to be led by two tremendous governors," said RGA Executive Director Phil Cox. "Governor Rick Perry and Governor Bob McDonnell are both national models when it comes to job creation and have economic development playbooks worth emulating. Texas has created more jobs over the past decade than all the other states combined while Virginia has created more than 67,000 jobs since February 2010."