New Website Builds Support Network for Perry Run

New Website Builds Support Network for Perry Run

By Erin McPike - July 21, 2011

As Texas Gov. Rick Perry mulls whether to run for president, a couple of Washington-based political operatives are joining the chorus of those urging him into the race.

Dan Hopkins, a Republican digital media consultant who advised Fred Thompson's presidential campaign launch last cycle, and Rick Murphy, a longtime aide to former New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg, created a new website Tuesday intended to stir support for Perry among unaffiliated Republican donors and activists in Washington, D.C., and New Hampshire.

The site,, is basic and serves as a repository of contact information for those interested in a Perry candidacy. But in essence, the site's creators are assembling a list of donors and activists who could become part of Perry's network immediately and add some heft to his team once (and if) he enters the race.

Hopkins explained that he and Murphy have had no contact with Perry's advisers and created the site simply to help get him into the race. He said the idea arose after he and a friend were discussing the Republican presidential field and complained that "no one generated any excitement, and we didn't think any of them could successfully challenge President Obama." But, Hopkins noted, "When we heard that Perry was likely to join the race, that got us excited, and so, we thought, ‘How can we help?' "

There are only two pages on the site, one that collects contact information and urges visitors to "Join the Movement!" The home page carries the message, "Now more than ever America needs to restore its founding principles and values. It's time for leadership. It's time for Rick Perry."

But the key feature on the home page is a video that includes a snippet of Perry's speech in June to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans. Hopkins' firm produced the video, which includes a song he had composed for this project. The lyrics include: "The time is now. This is what we've been waiting for."

The video ends with this comment by Perry at the conference: "Mr. President, November 2012 is not very far away."

Murphy and Hopkins notified a cadre of Republican politicos late Tuesday about the site, and recipients of the email included a handful of operatives with ties to Sens. John McCain and John Thune but who are not connected to any of the GOP presidential candidates at this point in the race.

One of the email's recipients noted that there are still plenty of activists and donors on the 2012 sidelines and suggested that Perry could have great crossover appeal, drawing those in the party establishment as well as staunch conservatives.

Jamie Burnett, a New Hampshire-based GOP strategist who is unaffiliated in the presidential race and who received the email blast, explained, "Hopkins and Murphy probably see this race like many others do -- that it's still wide open with an opportunity for a new candidate, like Rick Perry. . . .  Perry hasn't proven anything yet, but perhaps he is someone who can piece together a broad coalition of social conservative, tea party and mainstream Republican support to be successful. Time will tell. There is definitely growing interest in him here."

One Washington-based lobbyist who supported McCain's efforts throughout the last cycle -- and who initially supported Thune this time out and then thought he would back Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour -- was among those notified of the draft effort. With neither of his first choices in the race, the lobbyist said he believes there's still a vacuum another candidate can fill.

He said he doesn't know Perry well and has more to learn about him, but at the moment, "I'm just looking for someone that could get in the race [and] could ignite a fire."

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

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