Perry Adviser: Secessionism Criticism Is Baseless

By Erin McPike - June 30, 2011

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John Feehery, a veteran GOP operative in Washington, largely dismissed Perry's chances.

"Most people don't know him, and if they do, he comes off as a right-wing rube," Feehery said. "He won't compete in New Hampshire or Michigan. I doubt he would do very well in Florida. Iowa is now [Michele] Bachmann's. He could do well in South Carolina, but I don't know if that would give him enough momentum," he continued, referring to some of the early nominating states in the GOP primary.

Carney, however, suggested that if Perry runs, he won't try a regional strategy and would instead compete in all the early states, campaigning for the votes of all Republicans. Carney said he's spoken to political operatives all over the country about a potential campaign. But a political strategy, he said, is not part of the calculus of deciding whether to seek the nation's highest office.

Rather, Carney said, the due diligence taking place right now rests on finances.

"What we're trying to do is figure out whether we can raise the money necessary while not using all of the governor's time," Carney said, explaining that he would hope to put together a strong finance committee that could raise hefty cash on its own without having to dispatch Perry to too many fundraising events.

"We would want to make sure that he would not have to spend a considerable amount of time raising money, so that it frees him up to do more retail events," he explained.

On top of that, Carney said Perry has talked to a number of politicians who've been involved in national campaigns before and has heard the horror stories about the adverse effect on candidates' families. He insinuated that this consideration is giving Perry some pause, noting that it's a factor that doesn't get enough attention.

Carney would not put a deadline on the timing for Perry's decision. There's been rampant speculation that it could be shortly after the Fourth of July, or at a prayer meeting he's hosting for other governors in Houston on Aug. 6, but Carney said that after the holiday, Perry will begin to invest more of his time calling around the country to activists and other influential figures to gauge support.

(One place where he won't be looking for backing is at the National Governors Association meeting in Salt Lake City in mid-July. Texas stopped paying dues to the NGA at the beginning of Perry's governorship and stopped traveling to meetings to save money and time for Perry and his staff.)

Carney also would not say which way Perry is leaning regarding a presidential run, but conceded, "He's been very humbled by the outpouring of support. There's no question about that."

He also said that he's recommending a strategy that does not take into account the ups and downs of the other Republican candidates' early state strategies, but that an abbreviated period of time would simply allow Perry to present himself as an alternative to President Obama. Although Perry has said before he thinks the GOP field will expand, Carney said the Texan is not waiting to see which other candidates might enter the race.

"We would want to contrast with the president and his vision and present the best person to take on Obama. If the Republican electorate could just hire someone to do it, they'd hire Rick Perry," Carney said. "But that's not the way it works. We have to raise money and have a campaign first."

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Erin McPike is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ErinMcPike.

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