The Big Conversation:
His itinerary includes no stops in Iowa or New Hampshire, but don't expect the spotlight to leave Gov. Rick Perry as he barnstorms the U.S. this week.
Perry started his coast-to-coast swing Sunday at an anti-abortion event in Los Angeles, where, in front of a largely Hispanic crowd of thousands, he sharply criticized the Obama administration for its stances on reproductive rights and stem cell research.
On Tuesday, Perry heads to New York City, where he'll address the New York Republican County Committee, filling in for Donald Trump. On Saturday, he'll speak at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, at which U.S. Reps. Ron Paul of Texas and Michele Bachmann of Minnesota are scheduled to appear.
The governor's tour comes, it just so happens, less than a week after two top Perry aides (and a slew of others) resigned from the Newt Gingrich presidential campaign, fueling speculation that they'd be heading south to help launch a Perry presidential bid. Though the governor has only admitted to "thinking about" running, news reports have quoted a string of unnamed sources claiming that he looks increasingly likely to run; one report on Thursday called it "90 percent likely."
The will-he-or-won't-he speculation, the Austin American-Statesman notes, has also raised questions about Perry's electoral timetable. "Every day costs him a little bit," Robert Oldendick, a political science professor at the University of South Carolina, tells the Statesman of how the governor's late entrance into the race could affect his chances in early primary states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. "But he's got a couple of months before he hits that deadline."
Major candidates have already, unlike Perry, set up campaign infrastructure in those crucial early states. Seven Republicans, including presumed front-runner Mitt Romney, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Bachmann, Gingrich and Paul, will also meet tonight in New Hampshire for the first major debate of the campaign season.
- In anticipation of the Wednesday release of Texas Monthly's Ten Best and Ten Worst Legislators list, Inside Intelligence asked participants this week for their own Best and Worst picks. A taste: Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan; Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston; and Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, made the Best list. On the Worst: Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston; Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview; and Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio.
- The Dallas Morning News reported Sunday that the Obama administration may approve Texas' new voter ID law to avoid picking a legal fight that could give the Supreme Court the opportunity strike down a provision of the Voting Rights Act.
- Joe Nick Patoski, writing for the Tribune, has a look at Dallas and Fort Worth's June 18 mayoral runoffs, which — despite some prodigious fundraising in Dallas and partisan politics at play in Fort Worth — voters have largely ignored.
"Can Rick Perry survive a careful analysis of his record? I don't know, but he's going to need more than just a powerful blow-dryer to pretty-up that record." — Democratic strategist Paul Begala to the Houston Chronicle
- Obama goes in quest of Hispanic votes, Politico
- Perry has not overburdened the collection plate, San Antonio Express-News
- El Paso delegation put stamp on session, El Paso Times
- Some Texas lawmakers say light bulb bill is bright idea, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
- Controversial UT Regent: Let's Push Reset Button, The Texas Tribune