He bashed Barack Obama in Los Angeles over the weekend, fills in for The Donald today in the Big Apple and, on Saturday, Gov. Rick Perry will hit New Orleans for a GOP event that looks a lot like a cattle call for White House hopefuls.
There’s also this: a brand new online ad, now running in first-test New Hampshire, touting the Texas governor’s efforts to whip up on Texas trial lawyers. It’s produced by Americans for Job Security, which has close ties to Perry strategist Dave Carney — one of several top staffers to bolt Newt Gingrich's hobbled presidential campaign last week. The ads were prominently displayed Monday on the front page of the New Hampshire Union Leader's online edition.
If Perry was dipping his toes into the water of a presidential bid as the month of May wound down, this week he’s up to his ankles.
“He’s doing all the things you’d do to have the option open,” said Matthew Dowd, the onetime chief strategist for George W. Bush. “I think he’s just seeing the response he’ll get. He’s definitely on a different trajectory than he was a month ago.” (Dowd wrote in January, a lifetime ago in politics, that Perry had a good shot at winning the 2012 GOP presidential nomination).
In Los Angeles, Perry unveiled new speech material — more designed for a national audience than his standard state talking points — when he took on Obama directly over abortion rights. Perry urged the mostly Hispanic crowd, gathered for a bilingual anti-abortion event, to fight against Roe v. Wade until the watershed case legalizing abortion becomes “a shameful footnote in our nation's history books.”
Perry didn't take any questions from the media afterward.
The trip to New York is being met with more anticipation in a week that’s chock full of it. The Texas governor will headline the Lincoln Day Dinner put on by the Republican Party of Manhattan (technically known as the New York Republican County Committee). Conservative media personality Ann Coulter will also speak at the event. It’s the New York party’s biggest annual fundraiser — and officials say it's the most prominent GOP event held each year in a city ruled by Democrats. Past keynote speakers have included former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Organizers say there's high interest in the Perry speech, which is being fueled in part by the perception that the longest-serving U.S. governor might enter a GOP field that many observers view as weak and unsettled. Local officials scrambled to get Perry on the program after Donald Trump, who decided to drop a presidential bid, pulled out of the fundraiser, officials said.
“We are getting phone calls left and right,” said Daniel Isaacs, chairman of the Manhattan GOP. “I can’t recall the last time we’ve had this much excitement about a speaker coming in.” Organizers are expecting up to 300 people to attend the $1,000-a-head fundraiser, which is being held tonight at the Grand Hyatt near Grand Central Station in New York City.
Perry will also squeeze in a few media appearances — on Fox News, among others — while visiting New York.
After the speech, Perry will make a stop in North Carolina for a meeting of the Republican Governors Association, an organization that he chairs. Then, on Saturday, he’s off to the Big Easy, where he's speaking to the Republican Leadership Conference, the group formerly known as the Southern Republican Leadership Conference.
Perry made a big splash at that event last year, when speculation about the Texas governor making a White House bid was already under way — despite all of his denials.
A photo of Perry signing books is the first image that appears when viewers click on the website for that event. Others expected to attend the June 16-19 conference in New Orleans include a variety of declared and possible Republican presidential candidates, among them U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas; former House Speaker Gingrich; former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa.; Georgia businessman Herman Cain; U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.; U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.; and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman.
Perry is staying out of the direct fray for now. His spokesman, Mark Miner, said he would not be participating in the straw poll put on by the conference.